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.

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