On behalf of vegetarians, pescetarians, vegans, and those who just don’t like fowl: Phew! We made it through another Thanksgiving. The annual celebration of all things turkey is done for another year, and for that I am grateful.
I stopped eating meat five years ago, but even a few years before that I had stopped eating turkey: white meat, dark meat, I just didn’t like it. And the smell of it cooking is enough to drive me out of the house; as an added cruelty, my husband insists on making turkey soup with the carcass after the bird has been picked over completely. Then I actually do leave the house for several hours.
Tofu turkey and other such pretend turkey items just don’t cut it. (Here’s what one review of a tofu turkey recipe said: “So darn clever and tasty!” You can just stop at “clever.”) If you’re Italian, perhaps you might get a meatless lasagna served at the table, or eggplant parmesan. To tell the truth, there are a few Italian friends in town whose Thanksgiving dinners I’d be tempted to crash if I didn’t run the risk of alienating the 25 or so people gathered at my own house to celebrate Thanksgiving — turkey lovers all.
Some years I’ve cooked a special meatless dish; each time was a minor disaster, if only because trying to fit in one more item into the menu set the whole dinner back by a good hour. If I was Mario Batali or Rachael Ray this might not be an issue (although having watched Rachael’s show on occasion and seeing her enthusiasm for all things meat, she would have no sympathy for us non-turkey eaters.)
Call me a Thanksgiving Scrooge if you wish, but why can’t we give the turkey a break and just have a nice carrot-quinoa kugel or bowl of pasta with pesto to celebrate the day? But what the heck, this year, like last year and the one before, there were enough non-meat dishes to make a meal — even though the broccoli was smothered in a mayo-cheese sauce, the green beans were mushroom soup casserole style, and the toppings on the sweet potato dish made any subsidies to the marshmallow and sugar industries unnecessary for the next three years.
At the end of the day, however, it really is all about giving thanks, and I am grateful for a lot of things this year. Most of all, I appreciate the chance to celebrate our blessings and gifts with family and friends — even if 99% of them are holding the other side of the wishbone.