Thanksgiving: Is It Just Gluttony?
Some folks make so much food at Thanksgiving, it's almost gross. Do we really need so many different dishes—three vegetables, four pies, rolls, potatoes, stuffing, turkey, ham, etc.? Or do you prefer a more manageable meal, with fewer dishes—more like an enhanced normal meal? Which do you prefer? Would you rather eat more sanely or go for the full monty of food? Here are some Readers' Comments:
Gosh! The way you phrased your question I almost feel that I should be embarassed to tell you that I cook up a BIG Thanksgiving meal. I do not think it is gross, nor do I think it is over indulgent. (After all you do not have to over eat! which we don't)
So here is why I cook a big meal even though we are three with no family in attendance most of the time (In no particular order):
- Big Turkeys cook better.
- To honor my mother by cooking her favorite dish.
- So my son can have pumpkin pie and my wife can have cherry.
- To include my wife's family's traditional dishes.
- To have great lefovers for months (I make turkey tettrazini in December). To experiment with one new dish each year.
- To have food available.
Preparing a big meal reminds me of when I was a child and thanksgiving meant 25 or more family over for dinner, in case a neighbor is without family and can come over.
hey there fellow celebrators! Thanksgiving has always been a time when we give culinary expression to being grateful for our many, many blessings. Variety does NOT have to equal gluttony! Here in rural northern Maine we harvest early because by Thanksgiving we have probably had snow! Still, it is a joy to bring out the fruits of our labors. Having a tiny bit of many of the vegetables we grow and enjoy, and slivers of several types of pies made from the fruits we have gathered is a source of much pleasure! We are so grateful to have a lifestyle that gives us so much. Full helpings of everything aren't appropriate—'cause then you can't compare this year's crops of goodness with those of the past! A taste of everything won't leave you stuffed and does bring into focus the breadth of gifts we have recieved. We are so blessed and variety speaks to the quality as well as the quantity of our gifts!
: D Kittie Namur
From: Rose Pocock, rpocock@vgernet
A few years ago, after spending a week cooking and serving a huge meal, I noticed that everyone ate a lot of turkey, gravy, potatoes and dressing and little else. The following year, I made a bigger turkey and cut out the creamed onions, the sweet potato casserole ( a disgusting concoction that required marshmallows) and various other dishes that had crept into the menu. I now make two vegetables in addition to the mashed potatoes, turkey, dressing, gravy and cranberry sauce. That's it!
My sister-in-law cut back on the selection of pies and my aunt agreed that the huge platter of Italian cookies was not necessary, but would be appreciated on another occasion.
Everyone eats heartily, and no one misses the extra food. I think some people were eating some of the dishes just to be polite. It is also easier on the cooks... And the cleaner uppers!
Hope this helps, Rose Pocock
I like to eat more sanely and offer only a few dishes. Besides, I'm the cook and I don't want to prepare that many dishes.
I would prefer the more managed meal being that I am a diabetic and to consume 4 different veggies, starches, desserts would come to about 1200 calories, that is the amount of calories I am allowed in 1 day. To consume it in 1 meal would make my blood sugars scream!
From: Barb Wells
As I and my digestion get older, I prefer a simpler meal with the dishes being excellent. I have many friends who will make too much food and some of it is a compromise by being prepared commercially.
However, even though I prefer a scaled-down feast, the people I cook for, my grown children and their children want everything they like at one meal.
In addition to turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc., we often have meatballs in sauce with pasta, lots of special vegetables, etc. It seems to be a day for them to celebrate family foods that they all love. Come to think of it, maybe that's what Thanksgiving is all about. Anyway, I'll do it again this year.
Thanks for asking. Barb K. Wells
We don't change a thing—it's TRADITION—but I must say—we don't eat quite as much as in our younger years! We just have more leftovers which means I don't have to cook until at least Monday! Not have rutabagas mixed with mashed white potatoes? my father would turn over in his .......!
In my family, we try to make a reasonable amount of food that there might be a few left-overs but we don't over do it. Well, we always make two extra oatmeal pies but the only time that we make this particular pie is at Thanksgiving and Christmas and the extras always get eaten.
My SIL's family always overdoes it. My brother told me the first year that he was married that he had never seen a bigger waste of food in his life. The majority of the leftovers at her family's house get thrown out.
Thanksgiving, for myself, is a time when my family all gathers in one place to share food and friendship, and, yes, we do go all out. It's an opportunity for each of us to make her/his favorite dish or to try something new. There is always a lot of sharing of love, fellowship, and good food. Plus, there are always the leftovers to be eaten for the next few days as turkey sandwiches or pot pies.
I am a single female in my 30's—originally from NYC, but now living in Miami Beach, FL. I have no family and it has been "traditional" for me to go out on Thanksgiving to one of the larger hotels in NYC that offers a Thanksgiving "Brunch". I have been doing this for at least 5 years now. I go with at least one other single girlfriend (but have been joined by up to 4 other friends). This way, I am not stuck cooking for a group of people, but I still get to pick and choose and eat as much (or as little) as I want. Unlimited champagne is most often included. I will be in NYC this Thanksgiving—and I have my yearly, standing "date" with my friend—we then go to some movie which has just opened.
—Audrey, a New Yorker happily living in warm Miami Beach!
This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.
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Modified August 2007