What better holiday to give us a break from the struggles of 2020 than a holiday that celebrates bringing people together and being thankful for having a good harvest? In this crazy year, it feels so calming to celebrate what we have and bring your loved ones together despite (and especially in) these unusual circumstances. Besides, the turkey alone tends to be so big that sitting 2 meters apart at the Thanksgiving table is pretty easy.
Before we talk about food, it’s important to note the trend for two types of Thanksgiving: the traditional family one and the alternative one with friends. In your traditional Thanksgiving, the entire family comes together, often including the extended family (recall your favorite drunk/crazy uncle joke here). In the U.S., it is one of the busiest travel weekends. Even more so than on Christmas or Hanukkah, Thanksgiving is the time to show your family you love them (at least enough to have dinner with them).
Lately, though, a more modern tradition of Friendsgiving has been gaining in popularity as more and more younger people prefer to spend Thanksgiving with their group of close friends or just can’t make it home to their family. Friendsgiving tends to have a more relaxed vibe both in terms of food and the general format of the holiday (anything can be an excuse for a good party).
All about the food
Of course, food is at the center of the Thanksgiving tradition. Befitting a harvest celebration, a mere chicken is not worthy of being the epicenter of the holiday table. A turkey is larger, more exotic, and at this point long associated specifically with Thanksgiving. The turkey is usually hollowed out and stuffed with anything from seasone d bread pieces to apples to vegetables and all sorts of interesting combinations of foods and flavors — so varied that the only name to account for all the possibilities had to be, well… stuffing. And the turkey is always served with cranberry sauce. But why?
One obvious reason is that this sauce is delicious. The combination of dry turkey meat with this slightly tart sauce is a delight for our taste buds. Part of the reason for including cranberries into the tradition is that they are native to the Northeast United States and so were readily available for early Thanksgivings. Whatever the reason, the flavor and color combinations of turkey and cranberries are an iconic part of any Thanksgiving table.
One could get easily full on just the turkey, stuffing, and cranberries, but what is a feast without a selection of filling sides? Mashed potatoes are a staple of not just this holiday but certainly play a special role here (just try a slice of turkey with some cranberry sauce and a side of mashed potatoes — and thank us later). They usually come with gravy, another great complimentary sauce. To make sure it’s not all meat-and-potatoes, a vegetable side or two is likely to grace the holiday table, such as a green bean casserole. Other sides can range from a light dip (spinach and artichoke is a good one) to hearty classic like mac-n-cheese. Roasted vegetables also make for a great side dish: carrots, sweet potatoes — you choose.
Breaking bread is an ancient tradition of many holidays and cultures. What better way to show a connection to your loved ones or introduce new people to your family (or friends group) than to break bread together? At Thanksgiving, cornbread, rolls, or biscuits all make for wonderful bready compliments to the main and side dishes.
We happen to know a thing or two about North American desserts. And we are certainly happy that the Thanksgiving dessert menu is all about pies. It being a celebration of the fall harvest, pumpkin pie is an appropriately Thanksgiving treat. Nor can you ever go wrong with an apple pie — always a classic. And for those of us who desire a bit more decadence, a pecan pie is like nothing else. Yes, Thanksgiving really is a holiday of Pie and Happiness.
Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving with family or friends, or have yet to celebrate one, give yourself a true feast that will keep you smiling for weeks. After all, the biggest open secret of this holiday is that Thanksgiving leftovers make the tastiest meals. The other secret is that eating this feast is generally more enjoyable than cooking it. Unless you have a professional kitchen and chefs who specialize in this type of food. Which, as it happens, we do. So order a Thanksgiving Feast for your group today. The deadline is this Wednesday.
Danielle Butler is an entrepreneur and the owner of The Pie Piper & Doornuts, in Auckland, New Zealand. She's an expert baker and creator. Her specialty is in American dessert pies, cakes and other desserts. Danielle has been featured in magazines like Denizen, New Zealand and Australian Women's Weekly, and has been a guest on radio spots, a judge on baking competitions and guest speaker sharing her knowledge of all things baking and entrepreneurship. She wants to empower people to create their own special moments with friends and family through food. Danielle is passionate about combating food insecurity in our communities.