Monday, November 23, 2009

The Hierarchy of Thanksgiving Foods


This doesn't look awkward...not at all...

It's thanksgiving time. Time to give thanks for those things we have, the blessings in our lives and most importantly celebrate with some of the people we're most thankful for being part of our lives.

As is tradition with so many Thanksgiving celebrations with people coming from near and far to gather for the holiday, it's time to play favorites and let some know how they're important and welcome each and every day and that we're thankful others are only seen a day or two each year.

With that said, it's time for the hierarchy of Thanksgiving food. As is customary with these posts, here's your disclaimer. First off, it's my list; I'm not taking a poll of what's the best or not, unless you count Brisbane as a poll taker, and I don't doubt that you'll think there are several classics missing from here. I suggest you post in the comments if you feel I've made an error or omission. Second, I don't eat a large variety of food at Thanksgiving so this list is a bit short; no filler. Finally, this list is just the good stuff; collared greens or broccoli are not on here.

Without further adieu, here's the horn-o-plenty of Thanksgiving food items, from worst of the best to first of the best.

Stuffing


The people that made this probably call it "dressing" cuz it looks super fancy

First off, it's not "dressing" as so many people call it, it's stuffing. When I say "dressing" what do you think of? A wishbone bottle filled with Italian or Thousand Island salad dressing. Yeah, that's what I thought. So, why should 1 day a year we abandon our definition of dressing in favor of what most people call stuffing? Whatever you call it, it's killer. When I found out that stuffing is basically squishy, chicken flavored bread it was like someone had read my mind and created the ultimate side dish.

Mashed Potatoes


I don't need this...I was in Jaws, OK???

I prefer the KFC smooth and creamy style though my tastes have evolved over the years to be more accepting of lump-filled spuds. I don't know what else to say about mashed potatoes; think of your own fun mashed potato story, be it a killer food fight or an alien inspired Close Encounters mashed potato sculpture you're proud of.

Gravy


I have no comment for this...oh wait...he looks like Daniel Day Lewis...I DRINK YOUR GRAVY!

Both my grandmothers before they passed away made some killer gravy. My Mom's Mom had gravy that my Uncle Dana nicknamed "heart-stopper gravy" though that's a compliment and my Dad's Mom made a mean gravy herself. Funny story: one year in Tennessee, my Grandma (Dad's side) thought she made a bunch of gravy but way underestimated the yield from the amount of corn starch she added to the drippings and by the time the gravy boat got to my grandpa there was none left. That was about 18 years ago and to this day I don't think a single family member on my Dad's side of the family will forget that day or make anything less than about 2 gallons of gravy as a result of that egregious cooking calculation.

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls


Who rolled the one on the lower left? Keep 'em tighter next time...

When I was a kid, I went nuts for these things. I still do, though not nearly as much; I'm a biscuit man, myself, these days. How could you not love Crescent rolls? Buttery, flaky, tasty, fun to unravel? They're the perfect bread for Thanksgiving. Their ability to sop up gravy and mashed potatoes ensure that the Crescent Roll will be a thanksgiving staple at an overwhelming # of Thanksgiving tables across America forever. Thanks, Doughboy.

French Silk Pie


Most under-appreciated pie ever? I think so...

I don't do pumpkin anything and I'm not a huge fan of apple desserts. With that said and because my parents aimed to please, a Thanksgiving treat specially for me was the venerable French Silk Pie. Graham cracker crust, chocolate pudding, whipped cream and chocolate shavings and you've got yourself one hell of a pie. As with the cheese pizza that people laugh at when it's ordered at a party as the others talk about getting their supreme and meat lovers pizzas, this is always the first to go.

Fried Turkey




What's wrong with this guy's head?

Oh man, you have no idea how awesome this is. Fried turkey sounds crazy redneck, dangerous and unhealthy as all get out, but here's the thing: you're totally right! Actually, done properly, fried turkey is just as healthy as a regular oven cooked bird but way tastier and juicier with plenty of ultra-crispy skin to go 'round. If I wasn't somewhat scared of how copious amounts of tryptophan streaming through my gravy filled veins may affect my ability to breathe I'd totally try to eat my weight in fried turkey.

My Chex Mix


Photos of my recipe are forbidden from being posted online

I'm not talking about pre-made crap in a bag or your recipe or some award winning recipe, I'm talking about MY recipe. If you've ever had my recipe of Chex Mix, you're no doubt salivating right now as the thought of that butter soaked cereal with the right proportion of seasoning, pretzels and nuts looks like Eden sitting on the counter in either a grease-spotted paper bag or welcoming bowl the size of a bird bath. Here's the thing with my Chex Mix: it's all about the old skool. Before the various spice makers and carbohydrate hawkers decided to get their slice of the pie through convenient hints and product placement, there was a simple recipe:
 - Chex (rice, wheat and corn)
 - Pretzels
 - Assorted nuts
 - Lawry's Seasoning Salt
 - Worcestershire sauce
 - Butter

That's it. No onion powder, no garlic powder, no bagel chips, no this no that. My recipe celebrates the original with a couple little changes incorporated over the years to perfect the ultimate Chex Mix recipe, though it is largely the original recipe from when somebody figured out that butter, seasoning salt and Worcestershire sauce drizzled over cereal and pretzels tasted orgasmic when baked for an hour.

All things said, this dish more than ANYTHING in my life reminds me of the holidays and of home. Since about 10 years old, there has never been a year of my life where I've not made this at least once from Thanksgiving to Christmas and I never intend on breaking that streak so long as I'm alive. Sometimes I make it for friends and family, sometimes I ship it to distant family as they clamor for my cereal snack heroin; a long-distance token of my thanks. There's even been a couple years that I've had to make it just for myself as I sat back and gave thanks-- for the people, places, experiences and things in my life that I can never, ever live without-- alone and nostalgic for Thanksgivings gone by.

To all friends, and family reading this--both here on this Earth or wherever you land after you've left us-- I'm extremely blessed and thankful for you, your love and inspiration, always.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

1 comment:

Laurnie said...

I love your blog. And I laughed for a solid 2 minutes at your crescent roll comment. What a slacker that person was