Saturday, 25 November 2006

Turkey Day

This is how they sometimes refer to Thanksgiving Day in the United States (the picture shows the first one).

This year it was last Thursday (they have it on a different day in Canada) and we celebrated it on behalf of our American friends by having for dinner one of the other traditional ingredients of the feast: sweet potatoes (we had them as a purée with mascarpone and crème fraiche¹, to accompany not a turkey but a pork loin chop on the bone, and very nice it all was too).

Thanksgiving is the equivalent of our Harvest Festival², but we do not make much of that and we certainly don’t have parades or make it an occasion for family gatherings and tremendous nosh-ups.

It is an admirable North American celebration which we ought to have imported rather than adopting their Halloween nonsense and allowing it to overshadow our Guy Fawkes Night; fireworks, bonfires and burning the Pope in effigy are so much more fun than dressing up the children in stupid costumes and encouraging them to scrounge from the neighbours by making veiled threats.

One of the good things about Thanksgiving is that—in theory at any rate—it postpones the Christmas frenzy, which for us starts much earlier. But although since the 1930s the Christmas shopping season in the U.S. traditionally begins when Thanksgiving ends, most shops start to stock for and promote the December holidays immediately after Halloween, and sometimes even before. Those who deplore over-consumption protest against this practice by declaring an international Buy Nothing Day (in America it is the day after Thanksgiving, in the UK this year it is TODAY).

¹ I don’t think I’d want to try many of the dozens of (Southern US) recipes for sweet potatoes listed here, though Sweet Potato Cake with Coconut Frosting and Sweet Potato and Banana Casserole may be delicious. It seems you can also cook them with peanuts, honey, pineapple and marshmallows, though not necessarily all at once.

² I am told that the voluminous knickers worn by elderly ladies used to be known as Harvest Festivals, from a line in the Harvest Hymn: “All is safely gathered in”. Just thought I’d mention it.

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