The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The great Thanksgiving debate

As summer turns into fall, it is time to return to the great debate: what is the best Thanksgiving dish?
A Thanksgiving dinner. Photo courtesy of Depositphotos
A Thanksgiving dinner. Photo courtesy of Depositphotos

As the leaves turn and the weather cools (or maybe it doesn’t with Lexington’s 80-degree November days) we have firmly arrived into the fall season. There is much to love about fall, the beautiful scenery, the smell of crisp air, the pumpkin spice everything, and my personal favorite, the sound of leaves crunching under your feet.

While fall brings the season of giving thanks, it also brings a big debate: what is the best Thanksgiving dish?

I, for one, have many opinions. Certainly, it is not any of the meats. While I will politely eat a slice of turkey at my great aunt’s house to honor her endless laboring over the bird, it is my least favorite part of the meal.

There is no grudge I hold against the way my great aunt cooks it, I simply do not prefer turkey. The danger with turkey, stuffed to the brim with bread and other meats, is that it almost is never as flavorful or moist as it should be. It usually disappoints.

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I used to be vehemently against stuffing, mostly on the premise of its time spent inside a bird. I remember I was at a young and impressionable age when I first stuck my hand up a turkey’s butt.

It was the last time I ventured inside the cavity of an animal. I don’t think I will ever quite get over that experience, and even in my more mature years with a more refined palate, I will accept stuffing as being a tasty side dish, but forever object to the way we cook it.

There is, of course, the vegetables. You have to have them to make yourself feel better about the sheer amount of carbs you are consuming, but they are never the stars of the show. A good side of flavorful green beans is a good way to go. My sister is a fan of brussels sprouts and there we will forever be at an impasse. Brussels sprouts do not deserve a spot at the Thanksgiving feast, they smell and they never taste good. I always am one to give everything a try, but I cannot get behind brussels sprouts.

Gravy and cranberry sauce are two beautiful condiments to tie the meal together. When I was younger I loved gravy, but as I get older the premise of fat in the form of a sauce is hard to wrap my head around. However, it remains a tasty and necessary part of the meal. Cranberry sauce is something that has grown on me. In true sibling rivalry, I was the advocate of gravy while my older sister loved cranberry sauce, but today I will concede that she had it right all along. Cranberry sauce is the perfect mix of sweet and tart to smear on your turkey to give it some semblance of taste.

The obvious best dish at a Thanksgiving table is the mashed potatoes. It is the most superior form one can eat a potato all year round but at Thanksgiving, it is truly the star of the meal. Now, I know some people add sweet potatoes into their dishes like a sweet potato casserole, but that is truly objectionable. Sweet potatoes do not begin to rise to the level of a good scoop of garlicky and buttery mashed potatoes.

The dessert is on a different level than the main meal. I might be biased as cooking a pie or two is always my contribution to the meal, but the dessert is truly where Thanksgiving dinner comes to life. Apple pie (and peach pie although that might only be a staple in my household) is the best form of pie. You may disagree with this entire article, but the pies are where I will not concede any ground. Pumpkin pie is all kinds of wrong, it is never as flavorful and always has a gross texture. If I wanted to eat bad pudding in a pie crust, I could do that on my own time. Apple pie, on the other hand, is the perfect mix of fall flavors. Cinanomin, ripe apples, sugar, nutmeg, and delivered in a crisp crust. This is where Thanksgiving is.

While debates about the best dish are fun—there really is nothing like pointless debates that get us going—Thanksgiving is a time to reflect. It is about gratitude, for our friends and family and the means we have to put food on our plate. While debating the best pie (Apple, obviously), we should remember how lucky we are to do so. On November 23rd, I will be safely tucked away, surrounded by those I am loved by, in a house that is warm and around a table that is full, and while I resent the place Brussels sprouts have on my Thanksgiving table, I will remember that I am so incredibly lucky for them to be there.

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