Today is the three hundred ninety-eighth Thanksgiving–or would be, assuming that it was rigorously and routinely observed, which it wasn’t. (However, it was never forgotten and then piously reconstructed. There were many Thanksgiving feasts before the official federal establishment of the day. This is really the day that would be the 398th.)
It is definitely 397 years ago that the Pilgrims and their native (then) friends sat down together to feast at Plimoth in 1621. At least two of my direct ancestors were there, not to mention several uncles, which gives this time of year some of its personal meaning for me. However, if you can’t make such a claim, it shouldn’t diminish in the least your enthusiasm for the day–there are many reasons to celebrate and many ways to find personal meaning.
Right now, the 19 lb. 8 oz. turkey is well underway in the oven. It was filled full of bunches of tarragon, sage, rosemary and thyme, as well as a lemon; its skin was richly seasoned with Old Bay, Sazón Completa, black pepper and paprika. Red potatoes and sweet potatoes are ready for peeling and cooking. Leeks, parsnips, and a jumbo bag of cranberries and brussels sprouts–and wine and brandy–also await their turn. A welcome guest is the bag of John Cope’s Toasted Dried Sweet Corn, which will either become a Corn Supreme casserole (savory corn pudding) or Indian pudding (a.k.a. hasty pudding), depending on my mood later on.
Missing this year are creamed pearl onions à la Nana. I like onions on the table, so I may just parboil full-sized onions and cream them. The only not-from-scratch dish will be the stuffing, which is based on a store-bought bag of stuffing. I will energize it with sautéed leeks and slices of apple and pear.
Anyway, happy Thanksgiving and remember what the big fat turkey really stands for: a rewarding journey over the river and through the woods. Are we there yet?