Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Weirdest Thanksgiving Food Traditions

By Howard Portnoy


In two days, Americans all over the nation will sit down together and give thanks for the many bounties we enjoy here in the Land of the Free. Then they will tuck into what for many is the single largest meal of the year. According to The Telegraph, the average eater consumes 3,000 calories at Thanksgiving dinner.

But the strangest thing about the Thanksgiving feast is not the size of the spread so much as it is the dishes served. In Baltimore, for example, where I will be celebrating Turkey Day with my in-laws, the menu calls not only for turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and mashed potatoes but sauerkraut. You read that right. Sauerkraut (or more precisely, weinkraut, the culinary cousin to sauerkraut in which the cabbage is poached in red wine and sugar) is a Baltimore staple. In principle the sweet-and-tart combination is no different from cranberries, which are naturally sour. I’m here to tell you, weinkraut really brings out the gamy quality of the bird; I couldn’t imagine Thanksgiving without it.

On the other hand, I can’t imagine Thanksgiving with Coca-Cola salad. I just learned about this curiosity recently, which consists in part of cherry Jell-o and a can of Coke. The Coca-Cola Company was thoughtful enough to feature a recipe for the dish (which some consider a dessert) should you wish to whip up a batch for your own Thanksgiving table. (In case you're wondering if anyone actually cooks this concoction, the recipe comes courtesy of Carolyn Baker of Vandergrift, Pa.)

If you’re going to serve Coke salad, you may as well serve hot Dr. Pepper cocktails to go with it. According to a vintage ad, the recipe entails heating the soft drink in a saucepan until steaming hot and decanting it over a thin slice of lemon. Yum! (I’ll stick to shiraz!)

Another vintage ad claims that the pilgrims shared Old Golds (the cigarette) at the first Thanksgiving dinner. I haven’t lit up a cigarette in 30 years and am not sure Old Golds are still around, but I imagine any cancer stick will provide the same “peaceful relaxation and comfort,” to quote the ad.

Well, I’m sure I’ve provided you with enough ideas to make your Thanksgiving memorable, should you choose to serve any of the above oddities. In any case, have a joyous and blessed holiday.

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