At the first Thanksgiving, they probably didn’t have a turkey.
According to a story by NPR’s Robert Krulwich, the main course was probably deer (brought by the Wampanoags), goose and duck (brought by the English).
But in these United States, in 2012, Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving without a fat, browned bird popping and sizzling in the oven, rendering fat for a rich gravy, leaving behind a wishbone for kids to fight over.
“I believe from a good turkey all Thanksgiving flows,” wrote Kim Severson in The New York Times, in a story headlined “After the Turkey, Everything Else is Secondary.”
“Norman Rockwell didn’t spend all that time painting pans of sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce, did he? No. He painted turkeys.”
For Americans, the bird is central to (arguably) the biggest feast of the year. Expatriates, like David Leite in France, students abroad in Spain and Peace Corps workers in Morocco go to great lengths to procure, prepare and serve a bird, which, thousands of miles away, tastes a little bit like home.
One small food pantry gives out 2,000 Thanksgiving meals on the weekend before the holiday, anchoring each one with a Jenny-O or a Butterball between 13 and 20 lbs.
Even Sam Sifton, the former New York Times restaurant critic and author of “Thanksgiving: How To Cook It Well” (Random House, October 2012), will never forget the memory of the first turkey he cooked as a college kid.
“The aroma that wafted through the house for the duration of that first college Thanksgiving was and remains incredible to me,” Sifton writes. “I have forgotten the conversations. But never the meal. I have been cooking that Thanksgiving turkey ever since.”
Your family Thanksgiving table might include sweet potatoes with Gorgonzola, creamy corn casserole, roasted cauliflower or stuffing with spicy peppers. It might include Jell-O salad, cranberry sauce from a can and Stove Top stuffing.
But your Thanksgiving table, like mine — like 88 percent of Americans’ — needs a beautiful, browned turkey to make it complete. And that is a very delicious tradition.
Here at gThankYou!, we wish you and your family a joyous Thanksgiving. We are grateful for all of your support, inspiration and business.
The gThankYou! Team
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