Well, well. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good rant. And lookie — here’s a magazine article just begging for it, and on a day when I have some free time.
The November issue of Waitrose Food Illustrated, the magazine of Britain’s upscale Waitrose supermarket chain, has a column about Thanksgiving, titled “Thanks, but no thanks.” It’s subtitled “A sanitised version of Thanksgiving’s grotesque cuisine is now a staple of British food magazines; Liz Marcy despairs.”
Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
The column explains to British readers the true disgustingness of Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, it’s not yet online, so I’ll have to excerpt it. Can we start with a sneer? Why, yes, we can!
Broadly speaking, this festival commemorates the arrival of a group of English religious dissidents in America. In 1621, they held a feast to celebrate the fact they’d survived persecution, weeks at sea and a rocky couple of years living on nuts and berries provided by the locals (whose largesse was rewarded with disease, dispossession and death)…
Now, I know one should never write about the USA without assuring readers that the country totally sucks. But did the author have to trot out such a tired cliche? Especially considering that the column includes an illustration of a “typical” Thanksgiving dinner, in which all the kids around the table are wearing Indian headdresses, complete with feathers.
But onward. Is there any upside to celebrating the Pilgrims’ genocidal regime? Well… “no presents, no cards, and no religious ceremonies.”
All you have to do is eat. And maybe watch a little football (actually, the only way to watch an American football game — a four hour pause punctuated by brief bouts of violence — is in a food-induced coma).
But then comes the downside: the meal, which is “downright bizarre.” The author warns, “Those of a delicate disposition should look away now.” She goes on to list the “infamous,” “baffling, jarringly mismatched dishes” that constitute the “mandatory” Thanksgiving dinner: Turkey; sweet potatoes (“mashed and served with marshmallows on the top”); and
the cranberry relish: this comes tin-shaped. Seriously, tradition has it that you simply up-end the can of gelatinous relish onto a dish, where it remains in its ribbed-for-your-pleasure cylindrical state until somebody pokes in a spoon.
She also bemoans the “mandatory” jello salad, “yes with the main course. Some gravy with that?” and the green bean casserole, with ingredients “selected at random” — “Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, tinned green beans, tinned (really) fried onions. Mix, bake in oven, serve. And discard, presumably.” She adds “to the above roll-call of shame” the mashed potatoes and stuffing and rolls that lead, inexorably, to the horrid desserts.
I just have one question: How did she find the sole table in the United States where all these dishes were served for dinner? Was it in the green room before a taping of Jerry Springer? At a retro, 1950s Irony Nite party? Or did she perhaps conjure this fantastical nightmare meal after hearing snide comments from fellow guests at a chic dinner party? No, seriously, I want to know — I’ve never had green bean casserole or jello for Thanksgiving, and I want to know who’s serving it up. Outside of the Appalachia of the author’s imagination, that is.
She ends with:
Of course, the strongest evidence that the Thanksgiving feast can be knocked squarely into a cocked hat by your most run-of-the-mill (Great) British Sunday lunch is the fact that these people seem not to have even heard of roast potatoes.
“These people”! Woo! Jackpot! I’ve never been called “these people” before.
The point of Thanksgiving is that “these people” take the day to get together with family and spend time appreciating each other, maybe even reflecting and expressing what they’re thankful for.
And there are about 200,000 of these people living in the UK as expatriates. We shop for Thanksgiving. But this year, this person isn’t shopping at Waitrose.
UPDATE: Keep the comments civil, people. See my post above.