(N.E. Bode -- author of The Anybodies Trilogy and other books -- did a few years as a recurring personality on XM Radio's XM Kids. This is an Ode from Bode's days in Radio. One that aired around Thanksgiving. )
Let’s just admit it. The typical Thanksgiving meal was first invented by people with very few options -- people who wore ugly hats and square toed shoes – people who were pretty much starving – in both food and fashion. They put together things that shouldn’t have been put together. They had a turkey. Fine. Use it. They had cranberries because there were bogs up where they lived. I don’t begrudge them this. But what they thought cranberries had in common – taste-wise – with a turkey is beyond rational thought. They had a pumpkin, but pumpkin and pie are two words that never should have been put together. Pumpkin pie? Pumpkins are gourds – of course gourd pie sounded awful. But that’s what pumpkin pie is, really. Just because you have a pumpkin doesn’t mean it needs to be made into a pie. I have a bike tire and you don’t see me shoving it into a pie, do you? No matter how much nutmeg and sugar you dump in a pumpkin pie, you can’t erase the stringy and pervasive taste of pumpkin. If they could just take the pumpkin OUT of the pumpkin pie, I’d be delighted.
We’ve done our best with this traditional meal. We’ve drowned the turkey – a bland bird – in gravy. We’ve stuffed the bird with salty bready stuffing. We’ve added casseroles – especially in the midwest – made from cream of mushroom soup. In the south, we’ve added cornbread – and some have even fried it, and some, bless them, have even deep fried it in fat back. And then there is that unsung hero of Thanksgiving – whose name has been lost – who tried to singlyhandedly save thanksgiving by boldly adding marshmallows to the sweet potatoes. Oh, the stunning genius!
But let’s learn a lesson from all of this. Next time, we decide to base an entire traditional meal on a group of people, let’s choose a people like, say, the French, during a period in their history of great abundance and luxury. Let’s do crème brulee and desserts you set on fire! Let’s do dip things in melty cheeses or melty chocolate or melty cheese and chocolate!
Plus French toast! French fries! Now that’s a meal!