• The Hammonton Gazette

My very controversial holiday food opinion



Thanksgiving is about a week away. It is probably my favorite holiday. There is no present pressure, no decorating requirements and no obligations outside of spending time with loved ones.


Our house didn’t even put football on until the last 10 years or so. Music played as we conversed and dined. Think Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and music from 1950s and ‘60s.


I love the traditional foods served on Thanksgiving. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, brown gravy, cranberry sauce (canned and homemade), apple cider, turkey (dark meat only please), candied yams, corn dishes, etc.


Stuffing was always my favorite and I could write 10,000 words on all the wonderful things stuffing has to offer and the many different varieties. And I do not count rice stuffing.  That’s too far from what I like.  And no, I don’t care for the stuff that comes in the red box.


As a child, it is such a departure from our daily meals that it was a true treat.  We rarely ate mashed potatoes or stuffing outside of Thanksgiving and the week that followed of leftovers.


But then something happened.


Italian food started creeping onto the menu.


First, it was an antipasto course. OK. I like it.  It’s a good appetizer in case the main dishes were running behind and doesn’t require an oven to heat up.


And I love olives. The more the merrier in my opinion.


Then the mashed potatoes became Italian-fied.  These were mashed with garlic. Not my favorite.  Then there were some baked with provolone and prosciutto. OK. This I like.


But then it went too far.


A pasta course was introduced.


What?


Why do we need stuffed shells or manicotti on Thanksgiving.  Can’t we have a day without being stereotypical?


The answer, no.


I would take one shell or one sliver of manicotti.


The acidic red sauce did not mix well, in my ignored opinion, with the comforting brown foods.


I questioned for years this decision, but I was roundly ignored.


My relatives and family friends all loved the pasta course. No one seemed to mind. It was just me.


I think people thought I was becoming too Americanized.  As if.  I just wanted one day where there was a minimal amount of garlic and as little tomato and pasta as possible.


I love it when a guest added their specialty. Maybe it was a bright shaved brussel sprouts salad that appeared when a new relative joined the family, or a corn casserole from a work colleague. And it turns out the turkey innards found inside the cavity, can be used for something.  This I learned when a new wife in the family made stock the day after Thanksgiving.



Do you have a story about growing up Italian, either in Hammonton or anywhere else? Send it to hammontongazette@yahoo.com.