For this week’s Story Cauldron, I’d like to turn it over to you, my readers. Here’s a two-question lightning round: 1. What is your least favorite food item you’ve eaten at a Thanksgiving/holiday meal? Do you turn your head at the gloppy green beans or run in fear of fruitcake? Or maybe you have a weird aunt who always brings something encased in aspic? I want to hear about it!2. What is your fondest memory from a past holiday meal?
My least favorite is also my favorite: Green been casserole.
Did anyone else grow up eating these 1970s era Betty Crocker specials, involving a vegetable (usually canned, which is fine!), some kind of canned soup like cream of mushroom, and something crunchy like Ritz crackers or fried onions?
The green-bean casserole was canned green beans, canned cream of mushroom soup, and fried onions, also from a can.
I didn't love it, but now think of it - and all these Betty Crocker-style recipes - with nostalgia!
As I've grown older I've realized my Midwestern farmhouse grandmother, having spent years tending to garden vegetables and struggling for a farm living, was excited about the convenience of all of these ingredients - it must have seemed like luxury.
My favorite memory also involves one of these casseroles - one night as teens, after a Thanksgiving farmhouse feast, my sister and I crept down to the kitchen, while the house slept, to reheat the potato casserole from that day's feast (canned cubed potatoes, cheddar cheese, cornflakes - love it). We forked it right out of the dish, while sharing jokes from the day. We both still remember the crunchy cheesy potato casserole and our carefree teen midnight indulgence of private jokes, dreamy chat, and the munchies.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Jackie, and Story Cauldron friends - hope your day is filled with some crazy casseroles and sisterhood, or at least some loving friends.
I don't have a least favorite: I just don't eat what does not look edible. But I have a favorite. My girlfriend in college had a free-thinking mother, not only untraditional but subversive. For Thanksgiving one year, she made lobster paella. It was sensational. Ever since then, I have tried and failed to convince those with me at the holiday to have lobster paella instead of turkey. (I would gladly cook.) The good news is we have a specialty butcher for the last 20 years that has hand-sourced small-farm turkeys that really taste like elegant fowl should taste.
My favorite Thanksgiving food is mashed potatoes with gravy. One year, my sister-in-law decided she was going to make the potatoes and she put cheese in them. Totally ruined them for me.😩 🤣 But that is hardly a great tragedy. I still had plenty to be thankful for.
My favorite Thanksgivings were the orphan Thanksgivings my friends and I had when we lived in Austin. A bunch of 20-30 somethings getting together and throwing down as hard as we can. One in particular my friend Tommy and I decided we were going to fry as much food as possible. That year we had arancini, fried chicken wings, fried turkey, fried goose, and I think we did fried donuts for dessert. It was quite the feast!
I can’t honestly think of something I’ve been served at Thanksgiving that I didn’t enjoy. Well, okay, dinner at my brother-in-laws was usually vaguely disappointing, and being a gravy snob the idea of serving gravy from a jar appalled me, which is probably why we started doing Thanksgiving at our house every year. Serve whatever the hell you want to on Christmas, but don’t mess with my turkey and carb feast, you know?
Growing up, my family always took a walk after Thanksgiving dinner. It started because the dog needed a walk, and evolved into all of us going on a two-hour plus hike in the woods after the dishes were done. So fast forward to November of 1989. My grandmother had died the year before, and our dog had passed away the previous spring. This was our first Thanksgiving without either of them, and we were all feeling a bit…off. It had snowed, like a foot, and I went to the barn early that morning to ride in the snow. Another boarder was there, and she was concerned because it turned out that she couldn’t bring the dog she was watching to her in-laws and was worried about leaving him alone. I volunteered to to watch the dog, and said they could pick him up that night. Which was how I ended up bringing an Old English Sheepdog to my parents’ house unannounced. We had a glorious walk in the snow after dinner, the dog was in heaven, and we forgot, for a few hours, to be sad about our losses. Looking back, that was probably the last best holiday we had all together as a family, before life pulled us all in different directions. I still miss those walks, all these years later.
1. My least favorite holiday food would be macaroons for Chanukah. The home made “cookies” were so dry and dull, they put me off coconut for life.
2. Not sure I can come up with a single favorite holiday meal memory. Too many to sort through! My partner and I just moved this year and we finally have enough room to host the family Christmas, which is very exciting. So I’m hoping for some good new memories in a month or so.
Hi Jackie. Great questions. My least favorite dish is oyster stuffing. I just don't like it.. One of the stories that I remember is when I visited my sister in Massachusetts before I was married. I helped my brother-in-law mash the potatoes. I had the half-and-half and he had the mixer. I started pouring the half-and-half and ended up pouring way too much according to them. But my brother-in-law kept mixing and kept mixing mixing until they came out perfectly! I remember that gave me a lift. As the younger sister sometimes you don't get the respect that you deserve so even small things like getting the mashed potatoes to succeed makes you feel great.
I can’t think of a least favorite since I come from a family of very good cooks. I’m fortunate.
My fondest memories have been being at my aunt’s with all cousins coming over. I especially remember graduating from the kids’ table and getting a full glass of juice with my meal. Now my own children occupy the kids’ table and I have the gray hair to stake my claim of adulthood.
Without doubt, my fondest memory of a holiday meal dates back to April of 1965,, more specifically Passover 1965.
My Mother was seeing a Mr. Jack W. He was a cab driver, and although he was not at all affluent, he was seeing a Freudian analyst 5 days a week (He saw the shrink so frequently not because he was nuts but because classical Freudian analysis advocates 4 to 5 sessions a week. Most patients who think they have been in psychoanalysis have in fact been in what is properly denominated as psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy.) In any event, Jack's predilection for dated and grim Viennese therapies is not what made the holiday memorable.
Rather, it was his bold extrapolation from the Hebrew slaves in Egypt to the villagers in South Vietnam who were being napalmed by American soldiers who purported to be defending them from communism. He took all the bullshit I heard in school -- I had a very conservative second grade teacher who taught us how to play the Marine Corp hymn on the xylophone and, after leading us in the pledge of allegiance, screamed about Pearl Harbor -- and made mincemeat of their straight-jacketed dogma. He livened up the Passover Sedar like the Beatles livening up the Ed Sullivan show.
Holiday foods? I loved the Thanksgiving foods: Turkeys were so immense next to chickens that when I ate a turkey drum stick I fancied myself Fred Flinstone who,, in the animated sit com, used to eat gigantic drum sticks of some sort of game.