Thanksgiving: When You Try Too Hard You Get Grape Salad!

Rockwell ThanksgivingThe New York Times stepped in it this week with its “Thanksgiving Recipes Across the United States.”  They “scoured the nation for recipes that evoke the 50 states (and DC and Puerto Rico)” this Thanksgiving season.

What a wonderful idea, right?  Well…I don’t know. It seems only the fortunate few living in New Hampshire enjoy a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner!

What’s the problem with this article?  Nothing really.  No harm done.  This is fun!  Plain and simple.  However, the good people of New Jersey are no more likely to ditch sweet potatoes and squash for crepes-style manicotti than Minnesotans will replace cranberry sauce with grape salad…

Wait a minute…Thanksgiving grape salad?!  Never heard of it.  Although it seems that New York Times writer David Tanis has heard of it plenty.  He’s actually heard of multiple versions of this “classic” Thanksgiving recipe (from an heiress, no less), including some recipes he won’t even bother to try!

Lordy!  This is why some people — myself definitely not included — don’t like the haughty New York Times:  Out of touch, they say.  In fact I can hear ’em hollering in Cincinnati now, “Helen, those New York elites think we eat Pumpkin Soup with Ancho and Apple for chrissake!”   (By the way, what’s ancho?)

Alas, the New York Times Thanksgiving food article reads like a page from a striving Manhattan restaurant.  Perhaps that’s why people are poking at it.  But really the only offense here is the overreach of a reasonable idea.  Why not survey the signature Thanksgiving dishes of the states?  No problem there, however…there are not 50 different Thanksgiving dishes, Gomer!  There are the classics and that’s it.  That’s why people get nervous with the idea of a Thanksgiving potluck.  What if the person asked to bring the dressing brings Lucy Buffet’s Oyster Dressing instead?  Think about it.

Tell me if I am wrong, but there are only these items which comprise — in toto — the classic Thanksgiving dinner :

  • Turkey (or perhaps goose or duck)
  • Stuffing, sometimes called dressing (the stuff that goes into the bird)
  • Potatoes, generally mashed
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes or candied yams
  • Cornbread
  • Dinner rolls
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Gravy
  • Possibly a green vegetable (e.g., green beans or brussels sprouts)
  • Pumpkin or pecan pie
  • Lots of gravy

That’s it.  Do you see the problem here?  There are only 12 items — 12 real items — needed for a classic Thanksgiving dinner.  The New York Times attempted to stretch that to fifty.  When you do that you have to come up with things like Caramel Budino with Chex Topping!  (Not sure what that is, but supposedly the people in Utah do.)

Anyway…I don’t really care, but I do.  (Don’t mess with Thanksgiving!)  When Thanksgiving becomes a feast featuring such things as Mojo Turkey and Hasselback Potatoes with Garlic Paprika Oil, I’m staying home.


One thought on “Thanksgiving: When You Try Too Hard You Get Grape Salad!

  1. angrymanspeaks

    Bully Sir. Bully I say. Something to be said for tradition; what? Just because you did it last year doesn’t make it a tradition. Traditions go back many years or scores of years. Like chopping down a tree; dragging it in the house and lighting small fires all over the branches…or Well; but a Turkey damn it. When King George III ordered the Pilgrims to get together with the Indians and celebrate a day of thanks for finding a new place where the locals are even more gullible than themselves; he definitely had a Turkey in mind. Now the early colonists being rebels and whatnot as they were; they started bitching about; “We want a duck; give us a goose!” Well that was bad enough but “Grape Salad?” Are we giving thanks for Mount Olympus or the end of the Peloponnesian Wars? “We thank you “Lord” for Socrates who went out and met the red savages face to face; Pomegranate in hand and …..”


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