Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There are probably a lot of reasons for that, but it’s probably because it’s less commercial than Christmas has become, it’s in the fall which is my favorite season and so much of it centers around FOOD!
Thanksgiving dinner when I was growing up always consisted of the typical turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce and sides like sweet potatoes, corn pudding and green beans. Then there were the salads – tomato soup and strawberry. Tomato soup salad is not to be confused with tomato aspic which I don’t care for. Desserts were key, of course, and my favorite to this day is pecan pie.
I don’t like to think of myself as a picky eater (Wife is laughing hysterically as she reads this) but, rather, a discriminating one. To her credit, Wife has put up with my weird and sometimes changing preferences over the years. Thanksgiving, the holiday that so pertains to food, seems a good time to share some of those.
As for Thanksgiving dinner, I love, love, love turkey and dressing. “Dressing,” of course, is a regional thing and it has a lot of different incarnations. Here in the South, it’s cornbread dressing and one would never think of putting it inside the turkey. In other words, to us it’s not “stuffing.” I don’t make it myself but I know that one of the key spices is sage and that smell is wonderful. It always makes me think of my mother who made cornbread dressing very similar to how Wife makes it.
I don’t eat gravy of any kind, although it’s a main staple of the Thanksgiving dinner. To be quite candid, it just grosses me out. It grossed me out when my dad put it on turkey, dressing and rolls and it poured over into other food on his plate, and it grosses me out still. I know, that’s crazy, and many people that I love, love gravy, just as my dad – who I also loved, of course – did.
That leads me to other food things that gross me out, like ketchup. I eat it on the rare occasion I eat French fries or onion rings, and when I used to eat hamburgers I would put a little on a burger (more on that later). But I can’t stand to look at ketchup in any other way. Again, people I love will put it on hash brown potatoes or even scrambled eggs at breakfast and all I can do is look the other way. Kind of the same with baked beans – just can’t stand to look at them or eat them.
Texture has a lot to do with my food preferences. I can’t do things that are mushy and creamy (with the exception of desserts).
On to meat. I could probably be a vegetarian; I just don’t want to be. I don’t eat red meat of any kind except hamburger as part of the ingredients in spaghetti or lasagna, both of which I love. My preference would be to make it with ground turkey but since I don’t make it, I keep my mouth shut about that. I don’t like steak or beef of any kind and haven’t had a piece in years. My mother cooked a roast on many Sundays when I was growing up and maybe the repetition is what made me a non-beef eater.
The last hamburger I ate was in Chicago in 2006. We were downtown on a Sunday just before catching the el train to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game. It was about 11 a.m. and a lot of places were closed. We found a bar that would serve us and the owner of the place said their burgers were famous. Well, they might have been famous but they were also cooked medium rare and when I did eat red meat, I could not tolerate anything but well done. I ate about one-fourth of the burger and that was all I could do. So that was it with me and hamburgers. Call me un-American.
I like chicken and I prefer it grilled and very tender. I love fried chicken but don’t eat it very often. I do love it, though. I’ll eat fish of just about any kind, prepared just about any way. I’ll eat pork sparingly, my favorite being pork tenderloin, for which Wife has a number of outstanding recipes.
I like almost all fruits and most vegetables (but not squash, asparagus or Brussels sprouts). I love fresh vegetables from the garden in the summer and could eat my weight in tomatoes. I love bread of any kind but try to eat whole wheat as much as possible and really, I like it better. I love yeast rolls oozing with butter but I can pass on them pretty easily. I love pancakes and waffles for breakfast but I don’t care for eggs of any kind. Generally, I eat oatmeal for breakfast and believe it or not, I eat it dry with a little fruit and maybe a handful of walnuts. When it’s cooked, I get into that texture thing again. While we’re in the breads/grains group, I love pasta and much prefer red sauce over white. I love crackers and crunchy stuff too, likes nuts and granola bars.
I like potatoes, but not mashed (texture again). I don’t like sweet potatoes.
My favorite food on this earth is dessert. I have just an awful sweet tooth. Cakes, pies, ice cream, you name it. So while I can be smug and say how much I like fruits and vegetables, there is no doubt how much I love sweets and I wish I didn’t.
I like casseroles OK but they are not high on my list, except for Wife's incredible chicken spaghetti that our friends and friends of our children drool over.
As for drinks, I have never acquired the taste for coffee and neither has Wife. Just can’t stand the taste of it. We got a coffee maker when we got married and used it for our guests until about two years ago when we replaced it with an updated model. The fact is I rarely drink anything hot unless it’s very, very cold outside and then I’ll drink a cup of tea or cider. I love wine and beer, in moderation of course, but have never cared for the hard stuff. I also love milk (and its byproduct, cheese!)
Funny thing about "soft drinks" in the South. We call them all "Cokes." "Let's have a Coke" can mean a literal Coca-Cola, but can also mean Pepsi, Sprite, 7-UP -- you get the picture. Depending on where you live, you might call it soda, pop or soda pop. I drink a Diet Coke most days and I think the caffeine gives me the lift a lot of folks get from coffee.
Most of you reading this are probably thanking your lucky stars you don't have to live with me and all these quirks. Can't say I blame you.
But I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope you will enjoy some very good food!