Nov 102008
 
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Thanksgiving food is the best part of the five day weekend and what you probably believe is the whole reason for this national holiday.

But really the origins of the holiday going back to the first Thanksgiving in 1621 and even long before that with both the English and the native peoples here in America had religious overtones to it.

The English had been thanking God for bountiful harvests for centuries and the Indians also thank nature and their idea of a higher power for the various bountiful harvests and plentiful rain during those years in which they did extremely well.

Of course they thought they’d angered the gods when it was a dry year or very low food harvest. Somehow the commercialized and food centered holiday has morphed from these origins.

I always loved the bountiful and wide variety of food which comes out during Thanksgiving. The meats, vegetables and treats are oh so good.

So you understand where I’m coming from, my mom throughout the year cooked lots of home-cooked meals and semi-home-cooked meals. The semi-home-cooked were things like Hamburger Helper and Chef Boyardee pizza boxes.

But she also did quite a few things from scratch throughout the year. Considering her full-time workload and that there were five of us kids is a very impressive feat.

She always had an excellent grasp of time management and my grandma taught her to be a quite skilled cook.

Don’t feel sorry for me though…

Fortunately, I got good genes and played football and baseball so never had to worry about getting fat because the food was certainly good enough I could have gone down that path.

My paternal grandma on the other hand disliked cooking. She liked to eat out and didn’t feel the effort required to do the cooking was rewarded by the payoff of eating the food.

But at Thanksgiving even she prepared an extremely wide array of foods which were home-cooked and very delicious.

We would go over to my grandma’s for her big Thanksgiving feast with my cousins and uncles and aunts.

My aunt makes this quite excellent broccoli, cheese and rice casserole which everyone loves. I can do without the rice because I hate rice but I still eat some of her broccoli casserole because overall it’s good.

I love the nice steamy, juicy and moist turkey even though the tryptophan does tend to make me sleepy. And hampers my enjoyment and focus of the post feast football watching with my grandpa and cousins.

The Turkey is the main dish and my favorite part of the whole holiday. I attribute this to the fact it’s really the only time of the entire year I eat fresh turkey.

We do get to repeat it at Christmas. These are really the only two times during the year I get it and I really enjoy turkey.

When I was younger my grandma would make Watergate salad and a 7up Jell-O.

The Watergate salad was basically pure sugar. The ingredients were marshmallows, pineapple bits, Cool Whip and a couple of different kinds of nuts. Obviously, I don’t eat very much of this these days.

The seven up Jell-O was basically a lime Jell-O but instead of using water with the Jell-O packet 7up was substituted.

The Jell-O is allowed to gel in the refrigerator and once it’s chilled to the appropriate temperature a topping mixture of whipped cream and pecans is added to the top making it quite delicious.

Usually also my grandpa would put some deer sausage and Meyer’s Elgin sausage on the grill. This also was quite delicious though I’ve never been a fan of pork.

In fact Meyer’s Elgin sausage is the only kind of pork I eat. And no just to clarify I’m not Jewish.

I just don’t like the taste of pork. Maybe it’s because I know pigs roll around in their own crap and have all kinds of ticks and bugs on them. (My cousin shot a wild hog once so I have the uneviable experience of cleaning one with its incredibly greasy underside of its skin.)

Of course no Thanksgiving would be complete without ham. My grandpa loved ham but I never touched the stuff.

Also, for vegetables we would always have mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, some kind of carrot dish, as well as the obligatory cranberry sauce and other unmentionables.

Another thing I never saw a reason to eat was something out of a can on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is about fresh food and feasting on quality delicious cuisine just like the original pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians did.

So, after over stuffing myself on the main courses then came dessert. I already mentioned the Watergate salad and the 7Up jello but wait…there’s more (and it won’t even cost you only additional shipping and handling).

My grandma made the most delicious peach pie and pumpkin bread.

The peach pie is of course basically a pie version of peach cobbler. The peach sauce is different for the pie than cobbler and was my grandma’s secret. Probably also why I love the peach pie and don’t care too much for peach cobbler.

The pumpkin bread is quite a misnomer because it was really cake when you look at the amount of sugar which is in it.

But damn is it good even if my grandma most of the time use canned pumpkin (the one exception I allowed to my ‘no canned food on Thanksgiving rule’).

I remember fondly these meals from my childhood and have a bit of regret this year since my parents and two little sisters are going to be out of town in New York at the Macy’s Day Parade.

My grandma has decided not to do her annual Thanksgiving feast because of this.

So I’m in for an experience for Thanksgiving 2008 and I doubt one I’ll enjoy.

But Thanksgiving is a happy time so I want to hear from you about your favorite Thanksgiving food and feasting stories from your family’s Thanksgiving.

Leave your comments about your favorite Thanksgiving foods and most memorable stories of holidays of yore.

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