In the comments on my Turkey Lurkey blog entry, Mike said that she wanted to simplify her celebration. It made me think about why we do what we do for Thanksgiving. In many aspects I am all in favor of the simplification of life and probably for most people our dinner is totally over the top. I think what drives it is a desire to recapture something of my own Thanksgivings and a hope not to embarrass our kids from a culinary point of view. When I was growing up we always had the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, rutabagas, creamed onions and Indian pudding. As far as I can tell, John had no traditions. So it was important to me to continue my own set of culinary memories plus give John a sense of family and, I don’t know, for lack of a better term, food warmth.

As our children grew, it was apparent that they were definitely foodies. Some of my food became a little naïve for their tastes. Obviously, I had grown up in a season-driven, East Coast household. As my kids tastes developed, they were a part of a 90’s, fusion, West Coast kind of gastronomy. So I’ve tried to incorporate foods using traditional flavors plus modern twists. The chipotle sweet potato gratin is a new one I’m trying this year. It’s based on an incredible side dish we had at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in Las Vegas. It’s really tasty and a new interpretation of an “old” ingredient. Last year, we had the Apple-Rutabaga soup from the Inn at Little Washington. It’s a great way to use traditional ingredients in a new way and definitely a winner.

I think Jon is doing something new with potatoes this year. Maybe next year we can try something new with the green bean casserole. The “death by broccoli” comes from a friend from the mid-West. It was an instant hit with the family when we had it nine years ago. The ingredient list (except for the broccoli) is totally evil but it’s so delicious that we allow ourselves to eat it once a year. Indian pudding is an old New England recipe that comes from a mouldering cookbook that my mother gave me many years ago.

So you can see every part of our dinner has a story. Tradition for us is the evolution of experience and experimentation. It would be so much easier if it were intelligent design but not nearly as much fun.

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