Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving's Best

"When I worked in a grocery store, I loved nothing more than watching last-minute shoppers panic. Sometimes even now, I'll pop into a grocery store, on a holiday, just for my own amusement. Thank you, lady trying to buy a turkey on Thanksgiving!"

--Amy Sedaris, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence

I realize I am someone who is lucky to be invited ANYWHERE, and especially lucky to be invited anywhere for the holidays. Right now, I am on my way to Thanksgiving at my friend Kimmy's -- she has been up since "dark o'thirty" preparing our feast.

I don't have a lot of "holiday classics" in my culinary repertoire (frankly, I consider them a little beneath me), but dues must be paid, and I dusted off the two absolute BEST Thanksgiving menu items I could muster.

The first is an undisputed crowd favorite: "Maker's Mark Sweet Potato Souffle." The title pretty much says it all. The second, is more controversial: my Dad's dressing.

It's very traditional (again, an area where I'm outta my league): cornbread, sage, celery, onions... you get the idea. I have only made it a few times in my life, but I have honed it. It is (if I do say so myself) perfect.

It's controversial because EVERYONE has their OWN version of stuffing -- what we call dressing in my family (presumably, because we don't stuff it into the cavity of anything, lest we all spend the holiday weekend at the E.R.; we're A. alarmists, and B. hypochondriacs).

Some people use oysters, some people use fruit and walnuts (what we call "waldorf salad"). Some people use bread, and on Martha Stewart just this week, somebody used canned cling peaches.

Yeah, it takes all kinds. Except: I think it DOESN'T.

It isn't just that theirs is different, everyone has to concede that mine is BETTER. My college roommate suggests, diplomatically, that when it comes to classics (meatloaf, turkey, chili, etc.) EVERYONE assumes theirs is "best."

Well... Maybe they do.

But they would be what I would call: Wrong.

(They gotta know if it starts with opening a can of anything or includes "cheez" in the title, it's NOT RIGHT. They might LIKE it, but it's not RIGHT.)

When I get invited somewhere, I bring my "A" game. If my dressing wasn't the best (not "my" best, but THE best), I would bring something I was better at. There is no diplomacy in my kitchen. There is no diplomacy in my CD collection. Or on my bookshelves.

BEST is meant to convey something different than "favorite."

For example, I had a good time at "Mamma Mia" this summer (good company, good times, beautiful day, Kentucky Theatre), but the BEST movies I saw were Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and The Savages. I loooooved Death Race, but it wasn't the best anything except the "best chance to see Jason Statham without his shirt on before the next Transporter.

I could go on... And I will...

But dinner awaits one block away.

And they'd BETTER like this dressin'.


  1. NO. DOUBT.

    My mammaw's dressing was, and remains, THE BEST dressing ever made, even 15 years after her passing.

    I, in fact, refuse to eat anyone else's, as it's just terrible compared to THE REAL THING! (My mom tries to mimic her mom's recipe, God bless her heart, and she gets close enough for me to patronize her, however!)

    Bottom line... you haven't eaten dressing until you've had Lilly Swango's dressing, born from the hollers of Wolfe Co., KY.


  2. It was delicious, wonderful dressing that everyone enjoyed! It reminds me of my papa's recipe -- the cornbread especially. You created some wonderful dressing, lambchop!! loved it -- Kimmy

  3. That's SO how I feel about my gravy!!