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Editor's Letter

Once again, my food magazines are taunting me, promising “Twists on Old Favorites” or “Dishes to Jazz Up Your Thanksgiving.” But twists and jazz are not what my family wants at Thanksgiving. They want the same Thanksgiving dinner I’ve been serving since our first Thanksgivings as a family. Frankly, as a cook, I find it constraining, but, in the interest of harmony, I serve the same menu every year.

Weirdly, the presence or absence of a turkey is our one allowable exception. Our family has enough vegetarians and others who are barely carnivores that we sometimes skip the turkey and don’t miss it. Our favorite--when we can find someone to prepare one for us--is Cajun fried turkey.

For us, it’s all about the sides: cornbread dressing, cranberries in port-orange sauce, carrot souffle, baked spinach and artichokes and mashed potatoes.

The 1997 edition of “Joy of Cooking” offers a traditional Thanksgiving menu listing 24 items. The only dish common to their venerable list and mine is stuffed celery. Somehow this makes me feel just slightly less constrained.


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