“And then you run to the store for quick relief from a bottle of Kaopeptate…”

by Katie Pizzuto on November 12, 2008

in Dining,Food/Wine Pairing,Thanksgiving

thanksgiving_turkey_2This, for all intents and purposes, can be classified as the obligatory, pre-Thanksgiving post. But if you’ve come here looking for a recommendation on what wines to serve with this year’s feast, bugger off, because you won’t find it here. There are a billion other blogs that will tell you that: A) pinot noir is the most versatile red; B) sparkling wine is a great choice  that’s often overlooked; C) a good dry riesling can also pair well with most dishes. Others will tout drinking a US wine since it’s an American holiday, and push zinfandel on you as the “American grape,” but unless you want a high-octane beverage that makes your turkey taste as flavorful as a slice of tofu, I’d pass on that if I were you.

Thanksgiving is a time when Atkin’s and South Beach dieters throw caution to the wind and pile their plates high with every carb imaginable to man. It’s a day where someone is bound to bring you a bottle of white zin that you pair with….what….arsenic, maybe? It’s an evening where, inevitably, one of your cousins will wind up in the guest room, making out with his girlfriend on top of the coat pile, and at least 2 relatives will pass out on the couch from a tryptophan overdose and wake up in time for the caffeine rebound. But lastly, Thanksgiving is, in no small way, a pile of horseshit we bought into a long time ago. Suffice it to say that, to Native Americans, it is known as The National Day of Mourning. And as for what wine they paired with their first successful harvest…they were PURITANS, folks…the only ones with wine were the Catholic missionaries on the other coast! Nonetheless, I enjoy Thanksgiving immensely, because it’s a chance to break bread with people I love. That being said, there are several things I simply don’t get:

1. Antipasto – Those who aren’t Italian or married into an Italian family won’t understand this one, but seriously, what the HELL are they thinking? Well, we have this enormous meal planned for the later part of the evening, but we best give folks a little something to nibble on so they don’t wither away. How about some prosciutto, cappicola, mortadella, provolone, mozzarella, roasted peppers, anchovies, olive salad and bread sticks? Will that hold them over? Are you NUTS? That’s a light, pre-meal snack? Not to mention that, even though I’m not a historian, I’m pretty damn sure there was absolutely NO mortadella served at the first harvest feast. My beverage pairing for this? A stiff castor oil & Alka-Seltzer cocktail.

2. Green Bean Casserole – I know I’m gonna get flack from a certain family member for this one, but seriously, do people out there really enjoy this? For those not in the know, it’s made with COOKED green beans (so they can become complete mush when you then BAKE them), canned, condensed (i.e. gelatinated) mushroom soup, milk, soy sauce, and then topped off with sodium-laden french-fried onions. The only way that would have been part of the first feast is if the pilgrims had been smoking some of the “good stuff” in the Wampanoags’ pipes. Nothing—I repeat, nothing—would pair well with this gray/green dish. In fact, the ONLY thing that would make it palatable is a fifth of Sneaky Pete moonshine.

3.  Sweet Potato Casserole – Marshmallows have as much right to be at the dinner table as Woody Allen has to be at an adoption agency. Although sweet potatoes were nowhere to be found in 1621 (they were only found in Europe, and served as an aphrodisiac for the ultra wealthy), I’ll let that one go, because it’s become such a standard Autumn dish. But MARSHMALLOWS? No doubt that recipe was concocted by the marketing team of the Jet-Puffed company during a really shitty year: OK here are the options, convince consumers that these would taste great on either a green bean casserole or a sweet potato one, but it looks like Campbell’s already got dibs on the former, so waddaya say? Pair wine with that? Get bent! Tell you what…let it go cold, slice it and serve it as dessert. It’ll probably pair just fine with that bottle of white zin your aunt brought over, anyway.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jen November 12, 2008

Thanks for the break from the norm! I wonder what Thanksgiving is like at Woody Allen’s house?


2 Katie Pizzuto November 12, 2008

My pleasure, Jen….FYI, this post, funny enough, is my “norm” 🙂

As for Thanksgiving at Woody’s house…yeah, to be a fly on the wall!!


3 Coupe 60 November 12, 2008

Katie, you forgot to include the 2 trays of either Lasagna, stuffed shells or Manicotti that get brought out before the Turkey…

a staple in our Italian Thanksgivings…


4 Katie Pizzuto November 12, 2008

I count myself lucky, then, that isn’t part of ours or I might have to check myself into an Overeaters Anonymous!

But so as not to only pick on Italians, my Cuban family has a penchant for serving sides like rice and beans, sweet fried plantains and yucca with mojo! Very harvest-like.


5 Linsey November 12, 2008

I dunno if it quite fits – but at Christmas I do three different types of stuffing for the turkey

sage and onion stuffing and a sausagemeat stuffing are the really traditional sorts – but added to that I do a pineapple stuffing – which is basically the sausagemeat one with chunks of pineapple in it – seriously delicious – and always make too much as its great cold later or used to make leftover meatloaf

Holidays is a good excuse for over-eating and doing weird concoctions

btw – the bean casserole seems similar to mushy peas that you get here – absolutely revolting in my view


6 Katie Pizzuto November 12, 2008

Sounds delish, Lindsey….stuffing is my real weakness during the holidays. I could seriously eat plate after plate of it. Never tried mixing it into meatloaf, but I will ABSOLUTELY remember that this year..thanks!!


7 Linsey November 12, 2008

ty – its tried and tested in other countries too – i gave the basic recipe to some online friends in Canada and they really like it. 🙂


8 smokenmirrors November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving this year will be at my sister in laws house
I am sure that as always she will be serving
a traditional dinner beginning with antipasto
(little known historic fact: there was an Italian American community located on the outskirts of the pilgrim enclave, where only the finest imported Prosciutto and Mortadella was served
and the mozzerella hand made on the hour)


9 Katie Pizzuto November 12, 2008

@Mike…and that community was settled by, oh, lemme guess…Cristoforo Colombo?!? And the cheese was no doubt mozzarella di bufala 😉

I’m wondering if other ethnicities, besides Italians and Cubans, alter their Thanksgiving dishes?!? Anyone?!?


10 Tom Spedden November 12, 2008

My mother (off the boat Irish) prefers to mash every bland vegetable imaginable on Thanksgiving-turnips,parsnips and carrots, potatoes to name a few. The secret is to mix it all together with stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy and presto-gourmet meal. I think you were right that its about the family being together more so than the “quality” meal.


11 Katie Pizzuto November 12, 2008

I hear ya, Tom…kinda reminds me of something I grew up doing (and often still do as an adult) when I was eating both mashed potatoes and either corn or peas….mix them together for a great combo! I think they sell it now at KFC with gravy too…should’ve asked for royalties 🙂


12 Linsey November 12, 2008

you guys should really try yorkshire pudding – simple dish with rich gravy on it – mmmmmmmmm


13 Anthony November 13, 2008

Loves yorkshire pudding Linsey and agrees with you that it would be a good side for Thanksgiving, but not traditional in the USA. Katie, you are absolutely right about the sides (carbs) that are on the table each year. Most of them arent traditional at all or werent available back in 1621. I think Traditional American Indian meals should be a staple in this country. Just my opinion.


14 erikagwen November 13, 2008

The husband always makes stuffed mushrooms for before dinner. Two batches actually. Once for everyone waiting and one for him and who ever is helping him in the kitchen.

As for wine, yeah..I have to agree no zinfadel with turkey, despite being an American grape. So is the niagara, but I’m not drinking wine made from that either 😛 I prefer a white merlot to be honest.

But back to the food. I have one of those great boiled mashed veggie casserole recipe involving boiled yellow squash and onions (which smells like death, therefore needing wine way earlier in the day) shredded carrots and cream of something soup. It’s oddly a hit every year. I actually had to drive some up to a girlfriend who was stuck bar-tending one holiday.


15 Anthony November 13, 2008

In terms of wine, i forget to mention, for starters some bubbly and for diner a Malbec or Shiraz.


16 Linsey November 13, 2008

Anthony has just volunteered to make the Yorkshire pudding for Thanksgiving – hehe


17 Katie Pizzuto November 13, 2008

@Anthony, unfortunately, it’s hard to get traditional harvest recipes because the Europeans eradicated so much of the culture, and what’s left is definitely clung to, but often diluted with European influences. But yeah, having at least one “traditional” dish would be nice…

@Erika, the cook ALWAYS needs his/her own rations!! And I think maybe, all casseroles need to be rethought!! 🙂


18 Linsey November 13, 2008

is there any record of a true american indian dish – cept for buffalo that is!


19 Anthony November 13, 2008

You know Katie, you are so right. So lets try to find an American Indian recipe for Thanksgiving


20 Katie Pizzuto November 13, 2008

Here’s what I do know, Lindsey…the meat/protein they most likely ate was venison, and probably fish and fowl such as ducks, eagles, swans, cranes. Cornbread is very typically found at Native American celebrations, and is probably what was eaten back then as well, because corn was NOT good for eating on the cob. There was no cranberry sauce as sugar was scarce and expensive to import. As I mentioned, so much of their heritage has been eradicated that tracking down “true dishes” is pretty difficult.


21 Lynn_in_Sac November 13, 2008

You said Antipasto! Reminds me I want to can some up (old family recipe with veggies and tuna) for Christmas gifts soon. But surely if we ever served that before our holiday meal, we’d be fighting over the Brioschi for hours afterwards!

I got my family to ditch those other 2 classic dishes of bleh you mention years ago, but they hold on to one. Corn and Oyster Casserole…how they call that ‘cooking’ I dont know. I tried it once over 20 years ago and became ill.

I’ll drink to moderation this Thanksgiving, except for the wine!


22 Katie Pizzuto November 13, 2008

Lynn…I think I got labeled an antipasto-hater over at WLTV forum, so let me state here emphatically that I LOVE LOVE LOVE antipasto and all its glory. What I don’t like is having it served to me before Thanksgiving’s meal, precisely because I do love it so much….I have to push my seat back and STEP AWAY so I don’t overload!!

And I second your toast to moderation on all things save the wine!


23 Linsey November 13, 2008

Christmas for my family is basically

starter – yorkshire pudding with turkey gravy

main – turkey, three types of stuffing, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, brussel (yuck) sprouts, brocolli, carrots, peas, honeyed parsnips, cauliflower and gravy

dessert – choice of christmas pudding, mince pies, raspberry tart or jam tart with custard – and we always hide money in it as a tradition

3 hours later half the people are asleep and the others are playing games


24 Anthony November 13, 2008

mmmmmmmmm Honeyed parsnips sounds good Linsey with a glass of wine of course


25 Linsey November 13, 2008

and this year – i will use some of the ideas you gave me Anthony for cooking some of the veg – a mixed herby roast vegetable selection will probably be on the cards

and the roast will have herbs on too

only difference this year is that i wont be able to do my leftovers meatloaf – coz i will be in usa


26 Anthony November 13, 2008

Cool Linsy, glad to help you with the tips on the herbs. Btw parsnips and carrots can be used with the honey as well. Its probably similar to the carrots I make. Only difference is honey instead of sugar


27 smokenmirrors November 13, 2008

Thanks Katie for the Antipasto clarification.
The folks over at WLTV have now taken you off the hit list.
One of my favorite Turkey Day sides is parsnips/carrots roasted with a dollop of maple syrup generally add some shallots also


28 Katie Pizzuto November 13, 2008

@smoke…not nearly “carbby” enough for me, but yeah, that’s a yummy dish. I’m still reeling over Lindsey’s suggestion to use leftover stuffing in your meatloaf…YUMMMMMM!


29 Coupe 60 November 13, 2008

Mike, speak for yourself… She is clearly lying… the heat got turned up and Katie concocted some story about how she really loves antipasto…in fact she loves it too much…Katie is still on my hit list…


30 Linsey November 13, 2008

love my leftovers meatloaf – i chop up all the excess turkey, ham, beef, stuffing and add it to onion, 1-2 eggs, herbs, seasoning and pack it into a bread tin then bake it until its cooked right through – usually about 1hour –
then for the 2-3 days, just eat it cold


31 Katie Pizzuto November 14, 2008

Lou…If I wasn’t continually on SOMEBODY’s hit list, I’d be surprised 🙂


32 Coupe 60 November 14, 2008

Katie, please not that there was no leading “s” on my list for you 🙂


33 lia November 14, 2008

Love this! I wonder the same things. My husband and I ‘boycott’ Thanksgiving to actually unplug and be . . . thankful. Taking our daughter to Monterey this year to do so.


34 Katie Pizzuto November 14, 2008

What a fabulous idea Lia! Will definitely remember that one!!


35 Yvette November 17, 2008

A bit of trivia:
The Pilgrims didn’t invent Thanksgiving?

Afraid not. The holiday we know as Thanksgiving was the invention of Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879), the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, the most popular ladies’ magazine of its time. Hale spent many years lobbying congressmen, writing to five presidents, and publishing editorials in favor of establishing a national Day of Thanks. Her efforts were finally rewarded in 1863, when Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

Thought you might like to add this to your annals on holidays!


36 Evan Dawson November 4, 2009

This is only the best post ever on any blog and should be required reading for food and wine writers. But enough euphemism. This is great.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: