Thanksgiving Meal: Ranked

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and while Christmas is overshadowing it right now (the Starbucks I am at is playing Christmas music and serving snowman cookies), the Thanksgiving meal will always overpower the Christmas feast. Every family’s Thanksgiving meal may look different in some ways, but there are a few staple dishes that everyone has in common. Because of this, I am going to rank the Thanksgiving dishes from least favorite, to most favorite, and see how many people agree with me, or find some things relatable!


10: Rutabaga

Remember how I said every family’s meals are different in some way? Well for my family, I’ve got an uncle that is known for bringing rutabaga every year, which no one touches except for him. While this may be a “don’t knock it until you try it” kind of deal, it has become a Thanksgiving tradition in itself to not leave any room on my plate for it. For those of you who don’t know what a rutabaga is (I don’t either honestly) the dictionary says it is “a large, round, yellow-fleshed root that is eaten as a vegetable.” Appetizing right? If I have to look up the definition of what something is at a meal, and the definition tells me how to eat it, I think it is safe to say it is not making it onto my plate, or my mouth, sorry Uncle Chip!

9: Turkey

I am sorry to anyone I offend here, but turkey doesn’t have me jumping out of my seat quite like some other things do. To those who read my “21 Things I Wish I Knew Before 21” post, I had an irrational fear of meat that wasn’t chicken for the longest time, and it still truly hasn’t gone away. Growing up, my mom would always tell me I had to get at least two tiny pieces of turkey on my plate at Thanksgiving, but when she wasn’t looking I hid it under my giant pile of mashed taters, or gave it to the dog. The only reason that this beats rutabaga is turkey is a great (and probably only) source of protein at this meal! It may be called Turkey Day, but really, why turkey when that isn’t the best part of the meal? I guess “Pi Day” is already taken and mashed potato day just doesn’t have a good ring to it.

8: Cranberry Sauce

It baffles me as to why this is called a sauce because at every Thanksgiving I have attended, it is can shaped, and the farthest thing from a sauce. While I do enjoy cranberries, Craisins are a love of mine, I just don’t believe that a slice of cranberry sauce goes well with anything on the plate. For the record, slice and sauce shouldn’t be in the same sentence. I’m not one to really mix foods together, so eating straight cranberry is a bit much for me. While this may not rank the highest on my list, I will say, there is something aesthetically pleasing about how that can shaped blob has the perfect indents of the can in it.

7: Bread

At any other meal other than Thanksgiving, the bread would probably rank higher for everyone, but at Thanksgiving, bread is just “eh” because it isn’t as exciting as all the other dishes we only get at this time of the year. It has always depended on the year for me where it falls on my rank, as well as how old I was. As a little munchkin who was super picky, my Thanksgiving meal was pretty much mashed potatoes, and too many dinner rolls with loads of butter. As I’ve gotten older and I am less of a carb loader, the dinner rolls have declined. At my Gram’s house in Kentucky, she always has awesome flaky dinner rolls from my favorite bakery called Burke’s in Danville, KY, that I can never pass up. If you need a reason to go to Kentucky, this is the reason because the donuts are – unpopular but true opinion – better than Krispy Kreme. In recent Thanksgivings, I have totally foregone the interesting cranberry walnut bread or straight white bread, because those just don’t tickle my fancy like a Burke’s roll does. Not all bread is created equally at Thanksgiving.

6: Stuffing/dressing

Growing up, getting stuffing on my plate was just as hard as getting turkey on my plate for one reason-nothing related to the taste. I remember asking my mom what stuffing was, and she replied that it pretty much croutons. So the first time I got stuffing on my plate, I expected it to be the consistency of the croutons that I loved so much (carb loader diet remember?). It was at that moment when I took a bite of those soggy croutons, that I deemed stuffing as “icky.” In my mind, soggy croutons were a crime. Of course as I have gotten older, I do like the taste, but the idea of soggy croutons will forever be engraved in my mind which is why it is ranked lower than most people would put it. But dressing? Different story. Dressing is the “southern version” of stuffing, and does not resemble the shape of a bread cube – at least my Gram’s doesn’t which makes it better than stuffing in my mind. Just like hotdish and casserole aren’t really different, neither is stuffing and dressing. My Gram makes the best stuffing, and it blows away all northerner’s soggy croutons, that is a promise.

5: Mashed Potatoes

If I were writing this post when I was around the ages of 6-10, mashed potatoes would be at the very top of my list, as well as filling up half my plate. As I have grown up, and I now eat foods outside of the carb/starch food group, the rankings have changed a bit. There is nothing bad I can say about mashed potatoes with a big slab of butter on them, but they just don’t compare to what’s ahead. Just like bread is kind of average at Thanksgiving, so are the mashed potatoes in my mind, especially for someone who likes to prevent my green beans, turkey, and stuffing from becoming one with my taters.

4: Salad

Call me a freak, but I like to see some green on my plate at any meal. In addition, having a few pieces of lettuce on my plate allows for me to say it is a healthy meal of course! 🙂 Not every year has had the leafy greens, but when it is there, I seem to be one of the few people loading up my plate with it while others are replacing their room for salad with more slices of sauce or rutabaga. As much as I understand that Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy food and known to be a time to “pig out,” I still like to try to make it a balanced meal where my pants still fit me the next day.

3: Pie

Yes, this is number three, simply because the following two can satisfy me in ways that pie never will. While I do enjoy me a nice slice of pumpkin and apple pie, it has lost its charm over the years. The first theory is that sugar was a lot more attractive to me when I was younger, and it gave me a great excuse to load up on whipped cream. My second theory is that I stuffed myself in years past, but still forced myself to eat the pie, which led to some operant conditioning that pie makes me feel sick (had to slip some psychology in here somewhere). Now, if cherry pie were at Thanksgiving? That would be a different story.

2: Green Bean Casserole

When it comes to this, I have either seen that people hate it, or love it- no in between. I think this is the only dish that we Minnesotans admit is a casserole, because green bean hotdish just sounds wrong. I have always been a big fan of green beans ever since I was little, and when put in a casserole, as well as being relatively healthy, it is inevitable for it to shoot to the top of my rankings. Unfortunately, I have had to make a sacrifice to not eat this since being dairy free and I have to choose my battles, but even looking at it is enough for me to rank it second. There is no way to mess up a green bean casserole, which makes it another great staple for Thanksgiving. Lastly, it is mentioned in a country song by Justin Moore called “The Ones that Didn’t Make it Home.” I don’t see anything like stuffing or turkey being mentioned by a famous country star, that’s gotta count for something.

1: Sweet Potato Souffle

If I could transport a scoop of it through your screen I would because it would explain everything better than my words can. If this helps explain how good it is; we have to bring two pans of it every year because just one isn’t enough. This was another one of those dishes that I was scared to eat for years because 1. there were a few pecans sprinkled on the top, and I didn’t like pecans, therefore, it contaminated the whole thing and 2. it was orange, and not mashed potato colored. Now, it is one of my favorites because my mom’s family recipe is so good. I probably could eat the whole thing, and I am sure the rest of my family could agree, but I refrain because Thanksgiving is about sharing. Not everyone is a yam fan, but I yam (insert laugh here). The reason it is so good is because the top is a layer of baked pecans, butter and brown sugar, and the perfect crispy combination with sweet potatoes. It honestly tastes like dessert, and is better than the pie which is a bold statement in most people’s eyes. I was missing out all those years of my mom forcing me to have one single bite where actually I did like it, but didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of being right, so I never had more than that. I may be dairy free, and these have butter in them, but they are worth the pain which says a lot.

Thanksgiving is all about what we are thankful for, and I have so many things I am thankful for such as my amazing family, opportunities I have been given this year, prayers answered, lessons learned, and food on the table (yes, this includes the rutabaga even though I still have yet to touch it). I am starting to see the importance of Thanksgiving; as our family tradition is changing due to cousins getting married and moving away, life changes, getting older, and grandparents not living as close. Coming together as family now means so much more especially since me and my cousins aren’t the ages where we all live with our parents, and persuade me and my brother to wrestle on the floor (I won). Despite all these changes and transitions, the one thing that won’t change, is the soggy croutons.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, I hope your pants have an elastic waistband!

~Lauren

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