Another tradition takedown: Thanksgiving dinner

23 Nov

nastycrapfoodComing up this week is Thanksgiving, one of the most treasured of American holidays. And as much as I understand the fragility of traditions – I learned this the hard way after I was beaten with an oak switch after my “Down with Arbor Day” parade – but I have to ask: are we STILL pretending to like Thanksgiving food?

I feel obliged to point out that I understand why people love Thanksgiving so much. I love it as well. You get a couple days off work, you spend a few hours with your family without the stress of gift-giving, football gives you an excuse to not actually speak to said family, and it’s the only day of the year where nursing a colossal hangover with several naps is not only accepted, but expected. Oh, and there’s that whole ‘giving thanks’ thing, for the hokey members of our society.

The other great thing – possibly the greatest thing – about Thanksgiving is the built-in license to eat yourself into pants-unzipping discomfort with zero guilt.

I love this aspect of the day. I just wish it could be achieved with actual good food for once.

That’s right, I said it: Thanksgiving food sucks a fat one. Disagree with me? I’m sorry, but I have a hard time believing you. You are simply having trouble separating the happy-fun-family-time with the crappy food on your plate. Which is understandable, but a mistake nonetheless.

But once you do segregate the food from the tradition, I think you’ll agree with me. Because if you liked the offerings so much, you’d eat them more than once a year. You don’t roast a turkey in February. You don’t eat stuffing in June. You don’t make mashed potatoes in October. No one does.

There is a simple explanation for not liking this food: because it has no taste. None whatsoever. Turkey, gravy, potatoes, stuffing: bland, bland, bland, bland. This comes standard with all foods that have been around longer than the Mayflower.

When this holiday meal was conceived, hundreds of years ago, our ancestors didn’t have any better options. This meal wasn’t the best of the best; it was just what was available. They didn’t know and appreciate the flavors of food, not like we do today. For chrissake, they drank out of unclean goblets. They didn’t even have George Foremans! Or sporks!

This was before honeycrisp apples, ranch dressing, rotisserie chicken, Skittles, etc. You think our predecessors would have devised this meal with the myriad food options we have today? Two words: ‘Fuck’ and ‘no.’ So I ask: why are we continuing with this charade?

We should be proud of progression. We should hold our heads up high at our food-related innovations. We should embrace the present.

We should stop eating the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

People, I hereby suggest 2009 as the year to buck the tradition. Suggest an alternative meal for Nana and PopPop’s house this Thursday. You can’t do any worse. Enchiladas, lasagna, stir fry, Chinese takeout, what have you. Something with flavor for once. Fresh vegetables. Fruits. Greens. Sauce that didn’t originate inside the same animal on which you are gnawing. Doesn’t that sound nice?

It’s time to rise up against this tyranny of a crappy holiday dinner that was devised by our tastebud-devoid ancestors. Let us create new traditions. The turkey revolution is long overdue.

17 Responses to “Another tradition takedown: Thanksgiving dinner”

  1. shall November 23, 2009 at 8:36 am #

    I’m not sure who cooks your meal, but I would suggest you find another cook not another meal.

  2. Jon November 23, 2009 at 9:11 am #

    Without Thanksgiving turkey, there can be no leftover turkey, and a world without leftover turkey sandwiches is a world I do not wish to be a part of.

    Also, I love Thanksgiving food, and am currently concocting the most insulting thing I can say, in retaliation for this post. It may or may not involve the phrase “America-hating weenie,” I haven’t decided yet.

    On the other hand, your list of foods the Pilgrims didn’t have was inspired comedy, so perhaps you get a pass.

  3. Cool Rut November 23, 2009 at 10:48 am #

    I love the buns, I cannot lie it is the warm buns that I pick up quick. I just like to get with them, spread them open, lay the butter on thick, mop up some gravy let it drip down your lip…

  4. B. November 23, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    Yeah, yeah … I knew I’d get killed on this one.

    I still think you turkey dinner supporters need to explain why that specific meal is only served once per year. Can you imagine only eating pizza on an annual basis? Would not be possible. It’s too damn good.

  5. Gates November 23, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

    I can explain…You see, people DO eat these foods at other times of the year. Where do you get off claiming people only eat turkey or mashed potatoes or stuffing on Thanksgiving? Maybe not altogether as one giant meal, but perhaps just as that as well. That’s just a total (incorrect) assumption, dude. I’d be happy to make you a sausage, green olive and banana pepper pizza this week.

  6. A.B. November 23, 2009 at 8:41 pm #

    “You don’t make mashed potatoes in October”??? Whaaa? Mashed potatoes are fall comfort food at its basic best. Yes, I do make mashed potatoes in October.

    That said, there are some dishes/meals that are celebratory: creamy green bean casserole with crispy French fried onions tastes just as good on a January night as it does on a certain November afternoon, but it is expected on that certain November afternoon. We expect ham at Easter, frosted sugar cookies at Christmas, latkes on Hannukah. They help set a festive mood. They are a tradition and remind us of what we love about holidays; what’s always important: eating.

    And yes, I do love Thanksgiving food. That’s right, I said it. Thanksgiving food is delicious. And I don’t even eat turkey! Last week I went to a party at the home of some like-minded friends. This woman and her husband host an annual pre-Thanksgiving open house and the food was TDF. I piled heaps of maple-glazed sweet potatoes onto my plate, along with very flavorful classic sage stuffing studded with carmelized onions and a bit of sauteed celery. I made quick work of rich, buttery mashed potatoes, and was lucky enough to get the green bean casserole when it was fresh out of the oven. For dessert, pumpkin pie with freshly whipped cream. I also had a glass of wine and two cups of ginger ale. Tell me this was not my happiest weight gain of the season–go on, I dare ya!

    We DO enjoy all these foods at differrent times of the year, but when they are served together, it’s decadent. It’s extraordinary. It’s overindulgent and yes, festive. That’s what I love about the holidays! That, and a general acceptance of short-term slothery.

  7. norm November 24, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    Wait a minute, you can’t understand how someone else could like a particular food. Aren’t you like 100% against arguing with someone’s taste buds? Total hypocrisy. Shame on you.

    We do eat this food other times of the year, it’s just a colossal amount of work to prepare all at once. And, readers, this post is from someone who doesn’t like cheese or any food in general that isn’t completely processed. It would be like Bernie Madoff lecturing about ethics. Take it with a grain of salt.

  8. RandBall's Stu November 24, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    Why do you hate America? That said: we do mix it up for Xmas, so instead of having turkey/potatoes/gravy/stuffing again, we pick a theme (Chinese, appetizers, Mexican, etc.) and go hard. Seriously, chicken lo mein and pot stickers on Christmas Day is perfect.

  9. B. November 24, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    Norm, what a silly analogy. I am not telling people to change their food preferences. I was just expressing a theory that people tie the menu with the happy memories, and that we’d enjoy the holiday even more if a different (ideally more flavorful) meal was prepared.

    Maybe I’m wrong about that, but not as wrong as your Madoff/ethics analogy. Conclusion: you lose, I win. Hooray!

    (Stu: I’ll be over around 4:30 on Xmas Eve.)

  10. norm November 24, 2009 at 10:29 am #

    Flavorful? Cranberries, stuffying, butternut squash, turkey, fresh bread? Your taste buds are on hiatus. Has anyone seen where those little critters went? If so, let me know ASAP, and I’ll personally fly them back 1st class,
    You discussing anything about food is like Mike Tyson talking about character, or Sarah Palin discussing national issues or Madoff lecturing ethics. The former knows nothing about the latter. I’ll accept an apology in writing or in person.

  11. norm November 24, 2009 at 10:31 am #


  12. B. November 24, 2009 at 11:07 am #

    Yes, flavorful, as in: sweet, sour, bitter or salty. The four flavors. Just saying you won’t find a ton of flavor in turkey, gravy, stuffing or potatoes. Even if you love the meal, you can agree with that, right? I mean, I hate coconuts, but I can admit they are very flavorful.

    Just because I don’t care about food doesn’t mean I know nothing about it. And again, this article isn’t about “I hate this meal and you should too.” It’s about my theory that people link the family tradition with the food, and that everyone would be just as happy or happier if the menu received an upgrade. But it looks like I’m on an island on this one.

  13. Gates November 24, 2009 at 9:28 pm #

    You Lose. We Win.

  14. B's Dad November 25, 2009 at 9:39 am #

    B, I am going to be thinking about this ridiculous post as I gorge myself on Uncle Phil’s fried turkey on Thanksgiving. I’m sure you might be concerned about the calories or saturated fat content. I wouldn’t change a thing about the menu. I can assure you it will all taste excellent and no one will be thinking we should have had enchiladas or lasagna. What is wrong with you?

  15. Cool Rut November 25, 2009 at 10:15 am #

    Do you have a friend named Wilson on your island?

  16. Cool Rut November 25, 2009 at 12:19 pm #

    After thinking about this post, I have come to the conclusion that you are like most conservative talk show hosts. Throw something stupid out to the public and act incredulous that not everyone agrees.

  17. UP December 3, 2009 at 11:01 pm #

    this is the most ridiculous thing i have ever read!

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