Where to get stuffed for Thanksgiving
Like chilled prawns and wilted salad make sense in the heat of an Aussie Christmas, a hearty helping of comfort food is de rigueur for a Thanksgiving Day feast in North America. Celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the USA (that's today!) and the second Monday of October in Canada, Thanksgiving Day is ostensibly a day to give thanks and bless the harvest. By eating all the food!
You’ve all seen the holiday movies; groaning tables of baked birds, starchy sides and sticky pies – a heaving spread of fall’s bounty. (And if you haven’t, we recommend downloading the Friends Thanksgiving Day episodes stat.) There’s always some side-slapping drama with the turkey or cranberry sauce. And a whole heap of familial baggage. Perhaps given Thanksgiving’s controversial theme (the pilgrims and Native Americans thing), it’s a way for people to eat their feelings? Anyway, here’s our list of Thanksgiving Day food and where to eat it.
Turducken in Louisiana
Here’s a dish that would confuse Jessica ‘Is this chicken or is this fish?’ Simpson. Is it turkey? Duck? Or chicken? Nope, it’s all of the above. In Louisiana, proving you can never have too much bird, a turducken is a whole deboned duck is stuffed into a deboned chicken that’s stuffed into a deboned turkey. And then stuffed into a human (bones intact but eating pants on). Circle of life and all that with sausage stuffing to boot. Because, stuffing.
Candied sweet potatoes in the Southern states
It’s a clandestine union that ought not to work but somehow does. Starchy sweet potatoes (a tuber) meet mini toasted marshmallows (a dessert) and make a sweet and savoury side. Originally a Southern thang, this dish has spread to all states in the US to become a Thanksgiving Day staple. Candied yams are more common in the west but you say potato, some say yam, y’all. Which brings us to another sweet/savoury mashup – pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin pie in the Northern states
The Yankees have it over the Confederate states with pumpkin pie in the North, while sweet potato pie rules the South. It wouldn’t be the US holiday season without pumpkin spice lattes (PSLs) and the ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice-spiked pumpkin pie filling is the perfect starchy sweet finish to a calorie-laden meal. In New York and surrounding states, it’s all about the Concord grape pie.
Macaroni cheese in the Southern states
Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food but it’s just a side to the main feathered event at Thanksgiving. It’s a veritable paleo nightmare in the South where it's all about the carbs and nary a kale leaf to be found. Macaroni and cheese Southern-style means the addition of Velveeta processed cheese – a fave of Dolly Parton. Up the fulfilment (and food coma) that the cheesy sauce and pasta combo brings with chopped bacon and ham.
Creamed corn casserole in the Midwest
If you’re invited to Thanksgiving Day dinner in the Midwest states like Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Kansas or Nebraska, you can bet your hulled husks that corn will be on the menu. One of the lingering harvest motifs of fall, Midwesterners love them some corn casserole/soufflé – all the corns. Creamed corn casserole is a bright yellow fluffy muffin concoction, while corn spoon bread, popular in the South, is more like a pudding.
Pecan pie all over the USA
Because, more pie. This super-sweet custardy pie topped with pecans comes in so many incarnations it’s the Nicki Minaj of desserts. Native to North America, the pecan nut brings the festive to Derby pie, a Kentucky speciality with added bourbon and chocolate; Texan-style deep dish pecan pie with cream cheese; New Orleans-style with sour cream; maple syrup pecan pie for the New Yorkers; a pumpkin pecan pie with eggnog; and even a mock pecan pie with no pecans (!).
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#Lifegoals right here: people cheering you on as you eat as much as you can with the possibility of a cash prize at the end of a bucket of fried chicken. The USA is the world’s hotspot for competitive eating, a legit sport that has its own administrative league and a calendar of juicy events.