Thursday, 26 November 2009

For my American friends

Ah, Thanksgiving. That great American holiday where scattered kinfolk trek back from the four corners of the earth to gather together at the family table and remember, um, remember... the story of Pocohontas?
No, wait, that's not it.
Hang on, don't tell me...

Naturally Thanksgiving is a strictly American tradition, and one of the few USA things that hasn't been exported around the rest of the world.
Until I started blogging all I knew about Thanksgiving I learnt from watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
If I didn't visit so many American websites and blogs, Thanksgiving would pass completely beneath my radar.

But I like reading all the enthusiastic Thanksgiving posts about what people are doing what they are planning to cook. And there is something noble and fitting about setting aside a day to remember and be thankful for the first pilgrims, what they endured and the foundations upon which America built her astonishing success.
It's good to look back and be grateful. And it occurs to me that it is not unlike a Passover meal in some respects ( always a plus in my philo semite books)
So this is just a little shout out to my yankee doodle dandies across the pond to say 'Have a good one!'
And if you need any encouragement to relax a little and not to take too seriously the business of making the day fabulous, then take a little negative inspiration from the following example.
I've seen it around the web lately. It originated on this blog and is, I believe, completely authentic, with just name changes ( although the original writer of this piece must surely know by now that her Thanksgiving epistle is famous)

From: Marney

As you all know a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner does not make itself. I need to ask each of you to help by bringing something to complete the meal. I truly appreciate your offers to assist with the meal preparation.

Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very carefully. If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything.

All food that is to be cooked should already be prepared, bring it hot and ready to serve, warm or room temp. These are your ONLY THREE options. Anything meant to be served cold should, of course, already be cold.

HJB—Dinner wine

The Mike Byron Family
1. Turnips in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. Please do not fill the casserole all the way up to the top, it gets too messy. I know this may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but most of us hate turnips so don't feel like you a have to feed an army.
2. Two half gallons of ice cream, one must be VANILLA, I don't care what the other one is. No store brands please. I did see an ad this morning for Hagan Daz Peppermint Bark Ice Cream, yum!! (no pressure here, though).
3. Toppings for the ice cream.
4. A case of bottled water, NOT gallons, any brand is ok.

The Bob Byron Family
1. Green beans or asparagus (not both) in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. If you are making the green beans, please prepare FOUR pounds, if you are making asparagus please prepare FIVE pounds. It is up to you how you wish to prepare them, no soupy sauces, no cheese (you know how Mike is), a light sprinkling of toasted nuts, or pancetta, or some EVOO would be a nice way to jazz them up.
2. A case of beer of your choice (I have Coors Light and Corona) or a bottle of clos du bois chardonnay (you will have to let me know which you will bring prior to 11/22).

The Lisa Byron Chesterford Family
1. Lisa as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. You can bring an hors d’ouvres. A few helpful hints/suggestions. Keep it very light, and non-filling, NO COCKTAIL SAUCE, no beans of any kind. I think your best bet would be a platter of fresh veggies and dip. Not a huge platter mind you (i.e., not the plastic platter from the supermarket).

The Michelle Bobble Family
1. Stuffing in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please make the stuffing sans meat.
2. 2.5-3 qts. of mashed squash in a casserole with a lid and serving spoon
3. Proscuitto pin wheel - please stick to the recipe, no need to bring a plate.
4. A pie knife

The June Davis Family
1. 15 LBS of mashed potatoes in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please do not use the over-size blue serving dish you used last year. Because you are making such a large batch you can do one of two things: put half the mash in a regulation size casserole with lid and put the other half in a plastic container and we can just replenish with that or use two regulation size casserole dishes with lids. Only one serving spoon is needed.
2. A bottle of clos du bois chardonnay

The Amy Misto Family (why do I even bother she will never read this)
1. A pumpkin pie in a pie dish (please use my silver palate recipe) no knife needed.
2. An apple pie in a pie dish, you can use your own recipe, no knife needed.

Looking forward to the 28th!!


Gosh Marney, I'll bet your guests can't wait.

And finally. No Thanksgiving greeting would be complete without a little piece of classic John Candy and Steve Martin. Planes Trains and Automobiles has more quotable quotes than almost any film I know. This particular excerpt has the slack jawed yokel uttering the immortal line " Her first baby... come out sideways. She didn't scream or nothing."
I can't tell you how many times that's been said around here.

For your viewing pleasure:


  1. "Please make the stuffing sans meat."


    Thanks for thinking of us over here, Clare. Happy Thanksgiving!


  2. I have Planes, Trains & Automobiles DVR'd so I can watch it tomorrow while I hide away from that other strictly American tradition - Black Friday! I love that movie!

  3. Awww! Thank you! I'm not on the other side of that particular pond, but still a Yankee Doodle Dandy celebrating Thanksgiving - in the Land of the Rising Sun. I think I'm going to make hubby watch that movie with me tonight!

  4. Oh wow! I have never seen that letter before! It is awesome!!! This is why I cook everything myself on Thanksgiving and just ask everyone else to bring easy things like soda, rolls, salad etc!

  5. Thanks Clare! I spent Thanksgiving 1985 in Dublin as an exchange student. We spent a large part of the day at the American Ambassador's open house - I guess they can't do that now after 9/11.

    Then back to Stephens Green for a Thanksgiving dinner the program directors put together for us. Almost all the 'fixins too except they served Tater Tots in lieu of mashed potatoes. In Ireland .... We were incredulous but at least there was apple pie.

    I live in Plymouth, MA so Thanksgiving is a big deal here. Football (american) and feasting (except I was home with a sick child!!)

  6. what a riot! with directions such as those, i'd opt to "get ill" the morning of the festivities... all the while cooking a fat birdy at home with all the fixings :)

  7. Ha ha ha! I just read this.

    And that's why *I* volunteered to make the pumpkin pie - so it'd be done RIGHT.

    Do you Brits have anything like this?