Food traditions are an interesting and highly personal thing; especially at Thanksgiving. Some balk at yams without toasted gooey marshmallows on top, stuffing without oysters, or a feast that lacks that ubiquitous green bean casserole. My sister-in-law absolutely must have "corn and oysters" on her Thanksgiving menu. I have a friend who cannot bear to celebrate this holiday without peas with pearl onions. As for me, no matter how I tweak my turkey, diversify my dressing, convert my cranberries, vary my vegetables, or doctor my desserts, it's just not Thanksgiving unless my Grandmother's butterhorn rolls are on the table. They remain sacrosanct.
So, how did the mainstays of Thanksgiving food tradition come to be? Well, New Englander, Sarah Josepha Hale seems to have been the driving force behind inventing the Thanksgiving myth of turkey and stuffing with all trimmings. She wrote a highly idealized account of just such a fictional Thanksgiving dinner in her novel Northwood (1827), which included roasted turkey, stuffing, preserves, and pumpkin pie. A far cry from what experts speculate to have been the original pilgrim meal of venison, lobster, wild birds, corn puddings and currants.
But the fact is, everyone has had their fingers in the Thanksgiving pie, starting with the pilgrims who adapted newly discovered foods to fit the recipes they brought from England; creating new dishes that were perhaps destined to become tradition in their families (with various tweaks and modifications occurring through the generations). Then there are other immigrants who had not celebrated Thanksgiving in their native lands who readily adopted the holiday and the dinner. In the process, they also added to and modified the "traditional" Thanksgiving menu. And of course, there are my traditions, and yours...
Over the next few days, we'll be posting some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Some are old, some are new, and some are in between. We hope that you like them, and we also hope that you will take a minute to share some of your Thanksgiving food traditions (and how they became so) in our comments section!