One of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving celebration is leftovers. I love returning to the remnants of the feast for days afterwards, not only in full replays but in football grazing and random snacking until nothing is left. OK, I’m weird that way, but there is so much abundance to Thanksgiving and what we are thankful for that one day cannot contain it.
In that spirit, I am offering you today and for the weekend some outstanding Thanksgiving Day posts that I found on the internet. And after that, for the benefit of posterity and the common good, I will give you a secret family recipe that may well transform your own celebration of the days after Thanksgiving: the famous-to-our-family and mysterious-to-outsiders “White on White on White on White.”
A Definitive Ranking of Thanksgiving Sides. This piece approaches the question of which Thanksgiving sides are the best with scientific (or pseudo-scientific) objectivity: Which ones create the fewest leftovers? Which ones are we eager to send home with guests, and which do we hope to keep for ourselves? Which ones do we have only for Thanksgiving because of tradition and no other time, which suggests that they aren’t really that good? The answers may surprise you.
Gratitude for What We Almost Never Think About. Kevin Williamson thinks about what helps the poor the most, and despite his 18th century chauvinism segues into a celebration of simple economics. “As you cut into that turkey today, remember that somebody did the hard and dirty work of raising it, butchering it, packing it, driving the truck that brought it to your town, stocking the store shelves — and the very difficult work of figuring out how to get all that done, from domesticating turkeys to fueling that truck, a long unbroken line of human effort and ingenuity stretching back to the first guy who figured out how to chip a piece of stone a certain way to make it more useful.” We call it vocation.
Thanksgiving, Gratitude, and Augustine. John Turner reminds us, via Augustine, that there is something even more fundamental than economics that should elicit our thanksgiving and that we think about even less: Our existence.
The Proclamations that Instituted Our Thanksgiving Holiday. The Oklahoma City newspaper printed both George Washington’s proclamation that called for a day of thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, 1789 (the first year of our nation under the Constitution) and Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863 that made this a regular observance as a national holiday. Both are very moving. And Washington offers a thoughtful meditation on what a nation, secular though it be, owes to God’s providence (which means not predestination but that God “provides”) in the temporal order.And now for the recipe. . . .
White on White on White on White
(White #1) Take two pieces of soft white bread. [Note: I know that other kinds of bread, including those with more substantial texture, crunchy grains, and greater nutritional value, are better in every way. But follow the recipe, which depends on soft, fresh store-bought bread. This is a good use for Wonder Bread or the equivalent.]
(White #2) Apply a thick amount of mayonnaise to each piece of bread. [Note: There must be a lot of mayonnaise. Turkey is no longer delicious when it gets dry. A thick application of mayonnaise can in part remedy that problem. You may need to use more the older the turkey leftovers become.]
(White #3) Put turkey on the mayonnaise side of one of the pieces of bread. [Note: You may use dark meat, which actually tastes better, even though it is not, strictly speaking, “white.” You can pile it on high. This is a good use of the little scraps of meat that are usually leftover, since people take the large slices at the dinner.]
(White #4) Sprinkle a substantial layer of salt on the turkey. [It is important to use quite a bit of salt; otherwise, turkey can be bland. The salt should call to mind the first snowfall of the season to come. The sandwich needs to taste salty.]
Then top with the other piece of bread, mayonnaise side down. Do not put anything else on the sandwich. No lettuce (which would be a “green on white on white on white”) or tomato (which would be a “red on white on white on white) or anything else in any combination.
Serve with sweet pickles on the side. Also potato chips, which are also white. For a drink pairing, Coca-Cola, with a strong carbonation burn, is best.
I know this is just a turkey sandwich, but some people do not like turkey sandwiches or do not appreciate them enough. The only way I can account for that is that they are not made properly. Rather, they are made with dry bread, dry turkey, and lots of extraneous vegetation. Try it this way. If you still don’t like it, use softer bread, more mayonnaise, and more salt. By paring down the sandwich to its essence, we are approaching the Platonic Ideal of the turkey sandwich.
And now, in the spirit of people getting together for Thanksgiving with everyone bringing something, what good posts or meditations on Thanksgiving did you come across that are worth sharing with the rest of us? And what tasty recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers do you have?
Photo: “Thanksgiving Leftovers” by J Wynia via Flickr, Creative Commons License