Thanksgiving is the time of year when our thoughts go to the table and often drift back to tastes we loved, times we’ve shared at other tables, and food memories we cherish. In the spirit of a holiday that is all about food connections, we asked some of our Stonyfield staff to share their Thanksgiving memories. Happy Turkey Day to all of you!
Grammy’s homemade Parker House rolls. Jellied Ocean Spray cranberry sauce with the ridges from the can pressed into the sides. Creamed onions with Uneeda biscuits sprinkled on the top. Oysters Rockefeller oozing cheesy spinach and bacon. Candied sweet potatoes syrupy with a toasted brown crust and meltingly soft interior. Gravy mixed up directly in the roasting pan bubbling and brown like a potion. Gorgeous bronzed turkey with bread stuffing spilling out of it. One teeny sip of creme de menthe from the tiny red antique wine glass that my brother and I fought over every year. Marveling at the deep emerald green and bracing minty taste that was like drinking Winter to my tiny taste buds.
I don’t know if many of you know Portuguese people well, but we cannot talk with anyone without mentioning food, the last meal we had, the tiny little restaurant in the smallest village that has the most amazing piece of pork, the custard cakes you can only find in a specific place in Lisbon, etc. We even have a saying that goes like this “Barriga vazia não tem alegria” (Empty stomach doesn’t have happiness). Food is our cultural pastime – if someone studied how much time we spend at a table eating or just talking about food I guess we would be among the first in the world. That’s why I’m pretty excited about this post – it involves food (and lots of it by the way) and most of all sharing moments with other people. Thanksgiving is not at all known in Portugal, but it has somehow become a tradition in our house because of our American friends and also because we moved to the US last year and there’s no way you can escape turkey fever…Last year Thanksgiving was at our place and the funny thing about it is that we only had one American at the table – the rest of us were from different parts of the world. The recipe for the day was easy – just follow the White House’s Thanksgiving menu and you can guarantee it’s truly American! The conversation was really interesting as it revolved around the meaning of Thanksgiving and also deciding on who would cut the turkey (in fact we spent more time on this than anything else…the turkey was huge). We all had a great time but we ended up having turkey for the next few months…A year has passed now so I guess I’m ready for some more turkey! Can’t wait to check this year’s White House…
We do not travel home for Thanksgiving and therefore it is just myself, my wife, and three daughters. Since all my girls are vegetarian the meal is not a central aspect of the day. For the last four years we deliver meals to families who are in need. It has been a great experience for me, but also for my daughters as well.
Thanksgiving is always a fun time in my family. Everyone gathers at my mother’s house, ALL dogs included, and some close family friends. We place a card at each table setting that says: “I’m thankful you’re … ” then before dinner, we write something on that card about that person we are thankful for. We then proceed to indulge in the feast my mother has prepared. My favorite always being her irresistible stuffing. There is always more food than any of us can even imagine consuming in one sitting. That’s when I realize I’m super thankful for Tupperware! After dinner is done we all sit around and chat, drink wine, play board games and most importantly enjoy one another’s company.
For the Sevigny family, Thanksgiving would not be complete without a side of French meat stuffing–a seasoned blend of ground pork, ground beef, and potatoes. As a child (the youngest of seven), I wasn’t particularly fond of this dish. Instead, I opted for a “vegetable” side dish—the Jell-O mold with grated carrots, crushed pineapple and walnuts. (What was my mother thinking?) I’ve since developed a fondness for that meat stuffing. Not just because it actually does taste good, but because it instantly reminds me of many great family holiday gatherings and family bonds. My parents are no longer with us, yet I and many of my bothers and sisters keep this tradition alive at our tables each year. The Jell-O mold unfortunately didn’t make the cut. Sorry, Mom.
Thanksgiving to me is about 2 traditions that have been carried out w/ my family since I can remember:
1. Thirty-two consecutive years of long weekend get-togethers with our oldest of family friends – all 18 of us cramped in someone’s house.
2. Eating nonstop for the entire long weekend.
Our weekend looks something like this:
- Everyone arrive Wed. evening, loot the fridge and take stock of what we have to eat for the weekend – from nuts to After Eight Mints to Chocolate Covered Entemans doughnuts- it’s pretty much the same every year.
- Thurs at around 8 a.m. we talk about getting the turkey going. Thurs at around 11 a.m. the Turkey actually gets going (after bullying and yelling at my mother for three consecutive hours to get it in gear). We always aim to eat around 4.
- Around 4 p.m. we are generally always disappointed that the Turkey will not be ready for another four hours. It is at this point that I personally give in to hunger since I have barely eaten all day (because I am saving up for the feast)… and I begin snacking.
- Around 7 p.m.- everything else is ready to eat and laid out on the table (buffet style – always)…. still waiting for the turkey.
- 7:01- we all begin picking at the food that is sitting on the table… waiting for the Turkey to be ready.
- 7:20 – we are all as stuffed as the bird because we have eaten full servings of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, Kugel (THE BEST EVER), string beans and crescent rolls… all without ever picking up a fork or a plate.
-9 p.m. – (generally five hours late) turkey is ready and despite the fact that we are full, cranky and exhausted, we all pile our plates full of food, sit together Indian style on the floor (a tradition we have all taken in from my Iranian father) and go around the “table” and give thanks (always in the form of personalized poems…. which always end in something around “being thankful we are not the turkey”) and then….we feast….happily.
We spend the rest of the night on our backs wondering why we ate so much…then squeeze in dessert…sleep…then wake up the next morning and eat thanksgiving dinner for breakfast, lunch, dinner and so on.
There is no holiday I love more than Thanksgiving. The only holiday that is unabashedly all about the food and that allows me to eat guiltlessly for multiple days in a row. The combination of this food-fest and our unique friend/family gathering is irreplaceable in my heart and in my stomach. I can never imagine my Thanksgivings spent any other way than with our two crazy families and one habitually-late turkey.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THANKSGIVING FOOD MEMORIES?