29 November 2009


Thanksgiving is really about pie.  We talk turkey and our president pardons one; most of us eat it, but a few, including the vegan from Bucknell, don't.  Turkey is good, but it's made excellent with accompaniments: sauerkraut, cranberries, potatoes, gravy, and stuffing.  Thanksgiving dinner is special because we eat together; across the country people share a meal that's similar to what everyone else is serving. Remove my sauerkraut from the table and add your - say, tamales, and you've still got Thanksgiving dinner. This year I included parsnips sauteed in butter and nutmeg; my mom used to serve them occasionally and always mentioned that they were part of her childhood Thanksgiving. 
But it's pie that unites us.  Pecan pie, apple pie, and pumpkin pie, the trinity of Thanksgiving pies.  Just one gracing a table makes the holiday whole; add another and you're having a feast.  Here in Minnesota pumpkin is hard to find this year; I went to the store on Tuesday and saw a sign that said, "Sorry, but due to a crop failure we have no pumpkin."  So I bought a butternut squash, a few yams and sweet potatoes, roasted them in the oven, and mashed them together.  Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice, ginger, salt, brown sugar, eggs, and milk - but it lacked something, so I grated orange zest, added molasses, and made it right. The texture was good, too - a thick, almost pudding-like density.  Orange pie.  I'll make it again.  With a dollop of soft whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, pie keeps us at the table, talking long into the night.

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