Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Food for Thought: Holiday Dinner Essential
It's that time of year again - the holidays are right around the corner. (Please do not hate me for reminding you of this fact!) The holidays are full of crowded shopping malls, themed music, temperatures dropping, spiritual rejoicing and time for catching up with family, and they are also filled with opportunities to eat huge portions of hot, rich foods. Yes! The time is indeed drawing near!
I woke up this morning dreaming of green bean casserole (topped with French fried onions, of course), turkey with giblet gravy and pumpkin pie. Maybe it's because the Atlanta weather has briefly turned cold, or maybe it's just because I love to stuff myself to near sickness and this act of gluttony is more readily excused during the upcoming holidays, but I can't seem to get the smells and flavors of holiday dinners out of my head today.
Which got me thinking about priorities. In most American homes, Thanksgiving and Christmas meals are composed of many dishes which range from spicy to sweet. I recall that last year when I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at Kyle's mother's house there was a greater number of dishes on the table than people sitting around it - a true holiday smorgasbord. If I had to choose one, and ONLY one, to eat on Thanksgiving or Christmas, what would it be?
Naturally it is highly doubtful that you would ever have to make such a terrible decision in reality, but I have noticed that contemplating this sort of question helps me to appreciate all of the wonderful options that most of us take for granted every year when we sit down to sup.
After spending my early morning running on the treadmill and considering all my holidays past (not a good combination of activities), I have concluded that I would never want to spend a holiday without my grandmother's sweet potato souffle. I know there are many versions of this, and my sister makes a great one with a thick layer of pecans on top, but I have to give my grandmother's my highest rating for holiday food. It's topped with cornflakes, a whole bag of marshmallows and candied pecans. I have seen her make it and I cringed when she melted an entire stick of butter during the process, but all thoughts of clogged arteries fled from my mind when I tasted that first steaming bite. Fabulous!
Maybe your essential holiday dish is a special casserole from a recipe your mom hides from the rest of the family. Maybe it's an ethnic dish passed down through generations or from relatives who are fairly new arrivals in the U.S. Maybe you are part of a vegetarian family and instead of turkey or ham, your relatives whip up some tofu delight topped with vegan gravy. Whatever it is, I'd like to hear about it. Please share your holiday dinner essential with the Southern Foodie community by leaving your comments to this post.