I want a traditional Appalachian feast on Thanksgiving. It’s just sooo wrong for food to masquerade as the read deal during the season of gratitude.
Pleeease! No canned cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving dinner table. Ugh. The jiggly, jellied stuff is yucky. It’s a blob of gross. In fact, around 50 percent of Americans say canned cranberry sauce is ‘disgusting’ according to an online survey conducted by The Harris Poll.
Pleeease! No tofu turkey baking in the oven. Enough said.
Pleeease! No instant mashed potatoes piled high with melting margarine. Use authentic butter—not some imposter. Respect the spud on this annual day of honoring the Pilgrims and the Indians.
Pleeease! No boxed stuffing. You’ll upset the tender turkey.
And serve green bean casserole with crunchy onions on top. Cousin Clevis will call for a food fight without the creamy mushroom soup ingredient. Aunt Wilma will take her deviled eggs and amble home in a huff. And no gravy means war.
“I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage.”—Erma Bombeck
Naysayers to traditional holiday foods need to put a sock in it. Aaah! It’s okay to eat tasty treats once per year. Sweet potatoes, pecan pie, fruity punch. A little high fructose corn syrup won’t kill you. A dollop of whipped cream on your pumpkin pie won’t send you into a glucose coma. It’s the flagship dessert at many Thanksgiving dinners. A serving of glazed carrots won’t rot your teeth, either.
“To be a good cook you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating.” ―Julia Child
Grandma welcomes health food fanatics to her table, but you better not criticize her high calorie dishes. She’ll shun you and exile you to the children’s table.
Moderation and portion sizes are up to each dinner guest. A polite ‘no thankful you’ suffices for declining second helpings for the dieting crowd. Gorging is not expected or required. Besides, most relatives and friends want to carry home a few leftovers.
“Thanksgiving brings a lot of great things, like the four Fs: family, friends, food, and football.”—Hadley Mendelsohn
Of course, the Thanksgiving menu is focal, but the holiday is much more than platefuls of goodies. It’s a time for gratitude for living in the USA. For religious freedom and blessings. For liberty and democracy.
The Appalachia Thanksgivings of the past linger on in my memories. The cozy kitchen of my grandparents beckons me to close my eyes and remember the family gatherings. In those days, my grandma cooked with bacon grease and lard. But she stirred passion into every pot and pan. Being a transplant from rural Kentucky, she was a country gal with a heart of kindness. And my grandpa was a country guy that worked hard to support his family.
“In the very center of my grateful heart, an empty spot reveals itself from time to time. Today is one of those times. This Thanksgiving Day, I find my heart longing for my mountain home and the family I held so dear. I imagine most of you know that feeling as well. It’s not that we’re ungrateful for our lives today and the extraordinary blessings most of us enjoy. No, we are, in fact, more thankful for “today” because of what we miss from “yesterday,” writes Pam Sizemore at Appalachianmemorykeepers.org.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org