Thanksgiving is an odd holiday. We prepare excessive amounts of food, deliberately surround ourselves with awkward extended family, and then gorge on enough calories to last for days. Between the holiday’s shady (and rather violent) history and the frenzied consumerism that immediately follows on Black Friday, Thanksgiving is pretty twisted. As the family chef, I usually have the honor (and obligation) of cooking. But this year, I’m taking the holiday off. Instead, I’m dishing out a menu with all of Gulfport’s City Councilmembers reimagined as Thanksgiving foods. So, set the table and crack open the wine!
A Gulfport City Council Thanksgiving:
Sam Henderson: Mashed Potatoes (and Gravy)
Other than turkey, mashed potatoes are the most popular Thanksgiving dish. Individual recipes may vary (call me biased, but my aunt’s recipe is by far the best) but you always know what to expect with mashed potatoes. Not only are they an ultimate comfort food, (especially when topped with a rich, flavorful gravy) but they’re the glue that holds the Thanksgiving dinner together. It just isn’t Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes. Wine pairing: white Rioja (keep it classy).
Ian O’Hara: Dressing/Stuffing
Dressing is one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. There are so many variations in breads (Wonderbread, corn bread, baguettes) and extra additions (like apples, walnuts, and fresh herbs), that it’s truly one of the most unique sides at the table. Dressing is bold enough to stand by itself without stealing the show. But it’s also the perfect complement to the Thanksgiving pièce de résistance: the turkey. (And it doesn’t have to be stuffed up the bird to be fabulous.) Together, they make a fantastic pair. Wine pairing: any full-bodied red.
April Thanos: Ambrosia Salad
This Thanksgiving side dish is definitely one of acquired taste. The cacophony of canned ingredients is a little mismatched considering both the season and the other flavors of the holiday, but we all have those bizarre family members who love ambrosia. (Usually, they’re the same people who brought it to the party.) Don’t get me wrong, pineapple, coconut, oranges, and marshmallows are great on their own, but does ambrosia really have a place at the Thanksgiving table? Wine pairing: bubbles (as you’ll need a palate cleanser).
Christine Brown: Candied Yams
In the world of culinary, candied yams can be summed up in one word: Vintage. They’re right up there with Jell-O terrines and chipped beef cheese balls. Candied yams as a classic, generational Thanksgiving side dish and those generations probably can’t imagine a table without them. But if I’m going to eat starch cooked with loads of sugar, I’ll skip to dessert. Wine pairing: a bottle of aged Bordeaux you almost forgot you had.
Paul Ray: Green Bean Casserole
Green bean casserole is a polarizing Thanksgiving side dish. You either love it or you don’t. I did not grow up with it on my table. When Campbell’s thought to combine canned green beans with cream of mushroom soup and fried, packaged onions, I think they skipped the test kitchen. I simply do not understand this dish, the ingredients, or the absurd salt content. In lieu of this hot mess of a side dish, I recommend making fresh green beans almondine instead — the dish we want to think green bean casserole could be. Wine pairing: a cloying wine, like Riesling.
Thanksgiving is a perfect time to reflect on our gratitude. Whether it’s the opportunity to come together with loved ones, a day off to watch football, or the warm joy of cooking, what makes Thanksgiving so appetizing is the culmination of hard work and love. While each of these side dishes, eaten alone, are nothing special, each dish alongside the others completes our family table.