Thanksgiving is the one meal every year that is best associated with food. Yes, everybody eats on every other holiday. But the basic trimmings are at everybody’s Thanksgiving feast. Christmas is different, Easter is different, even Independence Day is different. But at Thanksgiving the essentials are always there.
So let’s take a top to bottom look at Thanksgiving, from worst to first.
Perpetually Last: Sweet Potatoes Sweet Potatoes are terrible. Sweet Potatoes are awful. Sweet Potatoes have no redeeming quality as it comes to taste. I understand that sweet potatoes are high in nutrient density. I get that. But any root vegetable that you have to smother in brown sugar and marshmallows to make edible should tell you that this food is terrible and you shouldn’t eat it. Why would anybody want to give Thanks with…..this.
#13: Tofurkey Don’t be that guy.
#12: Sweet Potato Pie This isn’t much better than sweet potatoes but has the advantage of being a convenient vessel for which to use whipped cream or Cool Whip.
#11: Cranberry Sauce from a Can Why do people eat something that looks like this?
You’re already in a bad way if you are eating food that takes on the shape of its can. But at least other foods that do this you heat up first and it ultimately takes the shape of something that resembles food. Not with this garbage. The idea that it is shaped like the can is somehow part of the allure.
#10: Green Bean Casserole I don’t mind casseroles. I like the variations of hotdish I’ve had, a Minnesota specialty. But when you rank it compared to the rest of Thanksgiving dinner, it ranks reasonably low.
#9: The Random Green Vegetable I like green vegetables. My wife makes awesome broccoli and asparagus. But Thanksgiving is about eating as many starches as humanly possible. How many people are really going to add the green beans to their plate?
#8: Corn A vegetable also in the starch category, the key with corn is to never eat it by itself. The corn is always used to top the mashed potatoes.
#7: Real Cranberry Sauce Have you had real cranberry sauce? Made at home? With actual cranberries and spices? The stuff which actually looks like something that came out of a cranberry bog? It’s awesome and it blows away the crap that comes out of a can. I don’t eat a lot of it, hence its place on this list. But I don’t understand people who have a choice between real cranberry sauce and canned cranberry sauce and pick the can. It’s illogical.
#6: Brown and Serve Rolls These are an important vessel for which to convey every other food on this list. This is a must-have at my Thanksgiving dinner.
#5: Turkey This may be a controversial pick. Turkey in and of itself is ok. It’s not great. It’s often dry. You usually have to smother it in gravy for the full effect. But what is Thanksgiving without the turkey? It’s not Thanksgiving. It’s sadness.
#4: Gravy Gravy is a necessity. With all of these starches, you need to have some sort of lubricant to get it down your gullet. The gravy is important. While gravy out of a jar is fine in an emergency, nothing beats homemade gravy.
#3: Mashed Potatoes This is really what brings the meal together. Mashed potatoes are an incredible and amazing food. The only reason that I don’t rate this higher on the list is that mashed potatoes, at least in our house, are more ubiquitous than just a Thanksgiving food. We eat them rather often.
Let me settle one thing about mashed potatoes though. They should be mashed with an actual potato masher instead of whipped with a hand mixer. The potatoes should be lumpy. You want the texture of mashed potatoes to actually remind you of potatoes. For improved results, mash the potatoes with the skin on.
#2: Pumpkin Pie How often do you eat pumpkin pie? If you’re us, about twice a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Pumpkin pie is the only dessert that belongs at Thanksgiving. I know that some people make other pies. I know that some people swear by other pies. I know that there is a decent chance I will eat a pie that is not pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving……in addition to pumpkin pie. But pumpkin pie is the dessert at Thanksgiving.
#1: Stuffing Stuffing is a wonderful invention, the most wonderful combination of carbohydrates that one can eat at one time. You generally only eat stuffing at Thanksgiving. Probably because it’s such a pain in the tuchus. It’s why Stove Top stuffing is so popular at Thanksgiving. Stove Top is perfectly fine to eat. Homemade stuffing is better of course, but this isn’t a cranberry sauce type situation. Stove Top is perfectly fine when the situation warrants. Homemade stuffing however is fabulous and you only get it once a year. Enjoy it. Binge it. And remember you won’t get any of it until next Thanksgiving…..