13.11.13

Thanksgiving questions answered

As an American living abroad, I have developed an almost fetishistic adherence to Thanksgiving. Independence Day (the 4th of July), never made much of an impression on me growing up - I lived in the suburbs of Washington, DC, so 4th of July celebrations just meant huge crowds, which I was never very fond of. Thanksgiving meant family, food, and television - all things I am very fond of. In Glasgow, that translates to friends, food and drinking, but the spirit is the same. I'm really possessive about Thanksgiving as well. I have had North American friends (Canadians have Thanksgiving too - they have it on what Americans call Columbus Day - the second Monday in October) offer to host it but I would rather not have it at all than let someone else do all the cooking. Is that nuts? Yes, probably.

Planning Thanksgiving each year, I usually get many questions about the holiday, which I've decided to answer here.

What is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is the day that Americans commemorate the fact that the pilgrims didn't all die out in Massachusetts back in the 1600s, thereby allowing the crazy experiment that is the USA happen over a century later. They went to the New World in search of religious freedom and stayed for the corn, potatoes and turkeys, apparently. There is some uncomfortable stuff about genocide, but that comes a bit later. Americans celebrate it now ostensibly as a way to remind ourselves to be grateful for what we have, whether that be health, family, friends, the NFL, or the right to bear arms, which is important if you want to form a militia. And why would't you want to form a militia in this day and age?

When is it? 
The fourth Thursday of November.

Why is it on a Thursday?
Dunno. I don't usually have it on the Thursday because living in the UK, I don't get the day off from work. I usually have it on the weekend after.

Don't you get tired of Turkey having it twice so close together?
No - I don't eat meat.

What do vegans eat for Thanksgiving?
First of all, I should preface this by saying I'm not actually officially a vegan. While I don't eat animal products, I do not follow a strict vegan lifestyle (I do wear wool and leather, etc and there is probably sharks' spleen in my lipstick. Did you know there was sharks' spleen in your lipstick?).

When I talk about food, I sometimes use the term vegan as a useful short hand (for example, if I'm in a restaurant), but I wouldn't like to offend genuine vegans out there by mis-using the term.

In answer to the original question, what don't vegans eat for Thanksgiving! The only thing I don't eat is the Turkey. So this year the menu will consist of (in order of importance):
  • Chestnut stuffing (though it won't be stuffed into some poor turkey's arse)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Green beans (I like to eat mine with toasted, slivered almonds, but I have a friend with an almond allergy who will be there, so I won't use them)
  • Roasted sweet potatoes and squash with something yummy like maple syrup and cinnamon
  • A main course
  • Pumpkin bread and some other sweet things like vegan fudge
In previous years, the main course has usually been a homemade nut roast with a creamy white sauce or a pie with mushrooms and tofu or some sort of 'meat substitute' like fake chicken in it. I haven't decided what I'll make this year. And no, I've never served 'tofurkey' - whatever that is.

Last Christmas - but the food is similar to Thanksgiving
Can I bring anything?
Booze!

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