By: Helena Mazzarella and Cat Weddle
As we near the end of November, we begin to approach one of the most highly controversial days of the year: Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect upon our lives and appreciate all we have to be thankful for. We think about the people we are surrounded by, the things that allow us to live the life we do, the furry friends who bring us comfort, our passions, our existence, etc. However, as we sit collectively around the dining room table, an underlying debate is present each year: the traditional “Thanksgiving-day meal.” Some of us wait 364 days to break out our coveted stretchy pants and revel in endless amounts of turkey and gravy. Others pretend to like the green beans, waiting for the moment they can sneakily slip a forkful to the dog who sits under the table, hoping for even a crumb. Here at The College World, we share that same debate and explain our opinions’ rationale.
*No friendships were damaged amid this heated debate.
Cat: As someone who grew up with a grandmother with impeccable cooking skills, I can confidently say Thanksgiving turkey is my favorite meal of the year. The taste of a perfectly made turkey smothered in gravy is unmatched, and it marks the beginning of the holiday season. Not to mention the incredible meal variations you can make with the leftovers. Did someone say hot turkey sandwich? Honestly, Thanksgiving lovers and critics alike could agree that a turkey at the center of the table on Thanksgiving is symbolic. Thanksgiving is already highly underrated and usually washed under the rug due to its proximity to Christmas. Without a turkey, what will separate it from any other holiday?
Helena: Before I even get to the flavor, the turkey just causes so much unnecessary stress during the holidays. First, the brave soul who volunteers to cook the turkey misses out on the entire Thanksgiving-day celebration because they are cooped up in the kitchen, checking to make sure they catch the exact moment the pop-up timer finally pops. Second, an unnecessary amount of stress is placed on the one who volunteers—or maybe is volunteered—to cut the turkey. Why does the turkey need to be perfectly sliced? The world will go on if the slices of turkey are a bit uneven. But let’s be honest, the turkey is always dry despite the time, stress, and pressure. There is no getting around it— unless you opt for a heaping spoonful of gravy, you’re going to need to make sure there’s a beverage of your choice at your disposal.
C: My defense of stuffing is primarily due to the benefits it provides a turkey. Stuffing your thanksgiving turkey will leave it unbelievably moist. A bonus of this traditional holiday side is the aroma of spices that will fill your home after taking it out of the oven. I could even go as far as saying stuffing is THE smell of Thanksgiving.
H: Stuffing reminds me of the bottom of my backpack— you never know what you’re going to get. Between the bread, turkey and vegetables, stuffing is just a hodgepodge of flavors trying (but failing) to complement each other.
C: I’ll be honest, cranberry sauce is not my favorite holiday side; however, by no means should it be crossed off your shopping list. With taste aside, the aesthetic alone should be enough. The look of fresh cranberry sliced into perfect cylinder sections on the table makes it well worth the mere two dollars a can.
H: Cranberry sauce is one of those foods you expect to be one thing but then as soon as you take one bite, you realize it is not what you thought it would be. For me, I always expect cranberry sauce to be sweet like Jello, and each year the sourness of the cranberries consumes palate, and I find myself disappointed once again.
C: Homemade mashed potatoes are my all-time favorite side dish, Thanksgiving or not. Now, it is important to emphasize ‘homemade.’ Bob Evans is a poor excuse for the classic side dish. If you are going to have mashed potatoes, you have to do it right, so make sure your potato peelers are sharp.
H: As a grown adult, I do not want to reminisce on my baby-food days. I did my time— a year is more than enough. There is absolutely no need for food to be mashed once your teeth have grown in.
C: Simply put, green beans are boring. These veggies can be eaten at any time of the year, so I don’t feel an attachment between them and Thanksgiving. That being said, If Aunt Sally forgets to bring the green beans, no need to panic. Realistically no one will be questioning why the dish is missing.
H: This is ONE piece of the Thanksgiving-day-dinner puzzle that I enjoy. Maybe because it is not strictly a Thanksgiving food? Sure, you can enjoy green beans on Thanksgiving, but you can also enjoy them at a cookout on a hot summer day in July. Green beans are a versatile vegetable ready to be devoured during any month of the year!
C: Pumpkin pie is simple; if you don’t like it, you’re wrong. No further arguments are necessary. Most importantly, if you’re anything like me, it MUST be eaten with an obnoxious swirl of whipped cream on top.
H: Pumpkins should be used only to decorate during Halloween, not to eat. In general, the pumpkin flavor is extremely over-hyped. I blame Starbucks for unintentionally coining “pumpkin” as the epitome of fall.
Year after year, the Thanksgiving-day-dinner-debate still stands. But, whether you are known for loading your plate full of Thanksgiving-day goodies or you remain confused by the contents of stuffing, we can all agree the true joy comes from those we share the meal with.