A bluffer’s guide to Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Pie

Call it the Americanisation of Britain, call it another excuse for a slap up meal, but Thanksgiving has grown in popularity. Celebrated on the last Thursday of November, it’s akin to a grown up Christmas without the gift buying or wrestling with evergreens. The meal is central to the day and Americans get a day off to prepare, using foods the pilgrims received from the native American Indians.

The heart of the meal is, like Christmas, a turkey and the stuffing is an art unto itself. A succulent blend of sausagemeat, bread, onions and herbs with chestnuts, oysters or raisins; the resulting taste often overshadows the turkey.

Sweetcorn and coleslaw arrive beside mountains of potatoes (debate rages as to how to serve them; mashed, roasted or gratin), but they are essential, just like gravy and cranberry sauce. Another staple is onion topped, creamy green bean casserole – definitely not enjoyed by the Pilgrim Fathers, but invented by soup manufacturers Campbell’s in 1955.

The most indulgent side dish must be candied yams – sweet potatoes roasted with brown sugar and apples, and topped with marshmallows. Not that you need dessert, the feast normally ends with a pie: pecan, chocolate meringue or most popular, pumpkin pie, a sweet custard tart of cinnamony goodness. For added authenticity, wash down with non-alcoholic apple cider or Beaujolais Nouveau, on sale just the week before.


1. Newlywed Hostess25 Nov 2008, 2:11am Report

While it is amusing that you are adopting Thanksgiving, which the pilgrims used to celebrate surviving their first winter in the New World after leaving behind the religious oppression of the Old World. While Potato, Sweet Corn and coleslaw are common to dinners in the US, they are not thanksgiving staples. Where I live the staples are Turkey, Dressing, Pecan Pie, Sweet Potato Casserole, Pumpkin Pie, and green bean casserole. They are often supplemented by favorites of the individuals enjoying such meals and vary region by region. And the dressing itself varies greatly between regions. In the south, it contains no meat and the bread is corn bread. But it is fortified with chicken stock.

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