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Confession: I usually dislike Thanksgiving.  I like gathering for the holiday, but it is not my favorite.  Why don’t I like it?  Here is the silly reason: its traditional foods are not my favorites.  I like to like what I eat.  It comes with growing up Italian, then marrying into Greek.  Food matters, especially at a holiday table.

The one year that Stephen and I were allowed to host Thanksgiving, we both agreed from the outset that turkey… um… well…



At best.

Instead we planned to serve lobster at our Thanksgiving. In theory, this was a win!  Who says no to lobster?  In practice, it turns out that lobster is RIDICULOUSLY more expensive than a turkey!  And when my mother in law heard there would only be lobster at Thanksgiving, she rebelled.  We ended up getting a smaller bird just to respect tradition.

Clearly we were never meant to host Thanksgiving.

This year we spent Thanksgiving at my sister and brother in law’s house in the Outer Banks.  That in and of itself is reason for joy: sunrise and sunset seem from a postcard each day, and warm-ish temperatures made beach time enjoyable, in a fall sort of way.  My sister Mary has hosted Thanksgiving for both sides of her family more times than I can count on fingers and toes.  She has a repertoire of recipes that are tried and tested.  Dinner was delicious.

This year’s winning recipe from our Thanksgiving table: Cornbread Stuffing with Linguica and Kale.  (Click here for the recipe.)  This stuffing is like our proposal for lobster at Thanksgiving: it flies in the face of tradition, but is so delicious that tradition needs to open its doors to change.  The stuffing was so good that the nieces and nephews were gaming each other, trying to be sure they would get leftovers the next day.  A 5 am stuffing fix is better than a 12 pm discovery that it is all gone.

Thanksgiving winner

Other great dishes at our Thanksgiving table included roasted parsnips – they look like french fries, but then taste slightly like a vegetable, but have parmesan cheese on them.  Your taste buds are in constant confusion: I like (That looks like a french fry – I’ll take more, please!), I’m not sure I like (Is this a vegetable?), I like (The cheese is delicious!).  Thumbs up to the roasted parsnips!

Also fantastic at the Thanksgiving table was the turkey, brined in a Rodelle spice mix, then spatchcocked.  Who knew turkey could be so moist and flavorful?  As Tom sliced the bird for serving, a group of us gathered around to watch, aka pick up small chunks from the cutting board and the serving platter.  I don’t think I have ever before in my life said “Oh, that turkey is delicious!”  This year I did.  Brining = win.  We all managed to keep our fingers, too, as we dipped over to the cutting board and serving platter mid-carving.

Another win that is a slightly different category – the game Codenames!  (Click here for ordering information.)  This was definitely the entertainment winner, although the 1980’s jigsaw puzzle that someone dragged out kept a number of people seriously occupied for 48 hours or so.  Codenames divides you into two teams.  One teammate gives clues, and then other team members must guess what the clue-giver meant, without giving information to the enemy (the other team).  It is quickly a loud and raucous time!

Final win: time with family.

Here is to hoping that you enjoyed a winning Thanksgiving, too.

About Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis is Professor of Spanish at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Over her 20 years at the college, she has been a champion for study abroad, establishing the first affiliation for Spanish students, and then working with the Study Abroad office to open the doors to students from other majors. Claire loves travel, food, wine and Spanish but not necessarily in that order!

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