This year I’m having a quiet Thanksgiving with just a few guests, but my gentleman friend and I have enthusiastically prepared a feast: roast duck, maple Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes with sage butter, cheesy leek bread, stuffing. . . mulled wine . . . two kinds of pie, chess and maple pumpkin.
We didn’t make the crusts, but I had fun cutting the leaves out of marzipan and dusting them with cocoa powder.
On the topic of Thanksgiving:
- From last year, my exploration of various manifestations of turkey in American slang.
- From Food & Think a few years ago, an old collection of literary scenes of Thankgiving.
- History.com has a little history about Sarah Josepha Hale, the “Editress” of Godey’s Lady”s Book who petitioned Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Prior to then, Thanksgiving was celebrated at different times of year by different New England states and hardly recognized in the southern states at all. This sounds familiar–other food holidays have similarly scattered practices, depending on who petitioned for the holiday and how high up the legislation reached. This story also interests me because Hale is a fascinating proto-feminist; she did not support suffrage and in no way believed that men and women are equals, but she did believe that women had their own feminine strengths to bring to the developing young republic, and she quite the media platform for a lady of her day.
- At the Boston Globe, Rachel Lauden also revisits the history of Sarah Josepha Hale, and gives the best explanation I’ve yet seen of the history of “traditional” Thanksgiving food. There are some great graphics with history snippets at the end of this article: when I made my Campbell’s soup green bean casseroles years ago, I had no idea that I was making a variation of a fancy French dish that American antimonarchical values and food industry had made accessible to the working classes. Ditto Jell-O: I know Jell-O, and I know aspic, and I never saw the former as the rebellious little cousin of the latter.
- Finally, my holiday menu is complete: I’ve been wondering what I can serve to guests who want the buzz of ale and the comfort of chicken soup and, well, now I know. Cock Ale, courtesy of Ask the Past.