Food for Thought

Etta Wilson

Blogger:  Etta Wilson

Location: Books & Such Nashville Office

Weather: Rainy and cool

Well, here we are in the season of Thanksgiving! For some of us making our list of what we’re thankful for this year may take a little more effort than previously.  For others we are more grateful than ever before. I’d be more grateful if I could just shoot one of the 30+ wild turkeys that wander through my yard almost daily!

Hearing a recent devotional on the topic, I was struck by how much our observance of this truly American holiday has changed since the time of the Pilgrims. Now we’re feasting and resting and often traveling, and I think we’re doing fairly much the same all across the country, whereas the earlier Thanksgivings were more regional and less about food and probably more about worship than watching football.

Maybe there are still regional dishes and differences that I’m not aware of.  What’s on your Thanksgiving table? Is there a new dish?  Or an old one rediscovered?

  • More to the point for those of us who write, have you ever written a truly Thanksgiving story?
  • Or made the Thanksgiving meal a significant event in a manuscript?
  • And drawing the net even tighter, have any of you written a cookbook—besides Lauraine Snelling, that is?

If you read Publisher’s Weekly, you may see their promotion of cookbooks in regular e-mails, “Cooking the Books.” I certainly have a collection, including first editions of  Julia Child’s 3 volumes on French cooking.

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16 Comments

  • Salena Stormo says:

    In the book I am writing now I included Thanksgiving as a part of the story. To me, Thanksgiving is really the begining of the Holiday season. It has always been the day that my family decorates the house for Christmas. We don’t watch football but we do enjoy having family around and sharing what we are thankful for.

  • Sarah Thomas says:

    My current novel has a Thanksgiving meal that includes a marriage proposal. Meals–especially traditional family meals–are so important to me and so much a part of my growing up. The food is what brings the people around the table together. (And how admanat we can be about OUR food. My husband was utterly lost our first Thanksgiving when I failed to make homemade macaroni and cheese. Who knew?)

    And my book, while about faith, certainly does resonate with Thanksgiving for so many of the intangibles we find through Christ. Happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll!

  • We get to stay home this year (no traveling to both sets of grandparents and eating waaaay too much.)

    I’m looking forward to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Nothing unusual for us.

    One year I decided to invite relatives to our house and try a glaze for the turkey. What we got was an oven fire! We called it a fireplace and hoped nobody would notice.

    I’m afraid nobody who knows me would buy my cookbooks. It’s a good thing I can write fiction.

  • Lindsay Franklin says:

    This is the first year in six years that I won’t be cooking my all-out, takes-me-two-days to-prepare, Thanksgiving meal. We had a flood downstairs a few weeks ago and the house is completely ripped up. Not really suitable for cooking or entertaining. So we’re going out. Weird.

    But it’s forced me to think about the holiday in a different light – what is Thanksgiving really about? Roasting pumpkins and brining turkeys and mashing potatoes? Not so much. One of my favorite traditions for Thanksgiving time takes place at my church. For a few hours in the middle of the day, the pastors gather to offer communion – an opportunity to give thanks and remember the most important gift we’ve ever received. Our salvation. This year, there is no temptation to skip the communion service because of my meal prep (“I can’t go now! The bread is toasting in the oven for the stuffing, the cranberry sauce is simmering, and I just rolled the crust for the pie!”). This year is an opportunity to step back from my kitchen chaos and really reflect. So I guess I’m thankful for the flood downstairs. :)

  • Julie Musil says:

    I haven’t specifically put Thanksgiving in my manuscripts, but my general feelings of being thankful wind up there.

    I wish you all a wonderful holiday!

  • Britt says:

    In my first manuscript, I have a Thanksgiving scene, but it doesn’t feel realistic to me and I think I’ll ax it. The 19th century Appalachians are not the place for it. Perhaps I’ll move it to my third WIP (now in progress.)

  • Lynn Dean says:

    Stephenie, what you posted is hilarious!

    Lindsay, I’m glad you be thankful for your flooded kitchen. We had a flood four years ago. Finally I had no choice but to replace the very outdated kitchen I’d cooked in for years. LOVE the results, and I’d have never have done it if a minor disaster hadn’t forced me to change. :)

  • Etta Wilson Etta Wilson says:

    It seems to me from the above that floods have some redemptive value, and that’s a good thing for one living in Nashville after the flood last May to remember. Thanks, Lynn and Lindsay.

  • Etta Wilson Etta Wilson says:

    Stephanie, you’ve got to include that turkey fire in a book. Glad you can laugh about it now.

  • Jenny says:

    We have double ovens, but only use them during the holidays. A couple of years ago on Thanksgiving I cooked the sweet potatos in the bottom oven, while the turkey was in our widely used top oven. An accidental family tradition is forgetting at least one of our favorite Thanksgiving meal side dishes. A month later at Christmas when I preheated my bottom oven for our second big meal of the year, the house filled with the wonderful aroma of sweet potatos. That’s when I realized I forgot to serve them at Thanksgiving. Fun stories.

  • Etta,
    I’ve been thinking about local foods recently, as well, and had planned a couple of blogs on the subject this week. I held off commenting here until I could finish the first of those.

    My childhood Thanksgivings were very much about extended family and food. Then I accepted Christ, while traveling after my degree, and spent that first Thanksgiving in Jerusalem, trying to stretch one jar of peanut butter and one loaf of bread until I could receive a wire transfer of funds. Later I spent nine Thanksgivings in Colombia, where it was just another work day, but we would try and have a special meal with friends on the following Saturday. Now, my wife and I are facing our first Thanksgiving in 35 years without any of our five children present (we’ll be with my parents and siblings). In the end, no matter what form it may take, Thanksgiving comes down to food, the people we hold dear, and a time to focus on gratitude for everything God has given us. (I guess I can limit it that way because I never watch football.)

    Here is the link to the food post on my blog today.

    http://blog.briantcarroll.com/2010/11/thanksgiving-salad-persimmons.html

    Tomorrow I plan to write about a nut “torten” I developed 30 years ago. Like you mention, it came at a time when I was trying to think through the idea of local foods.

  • Caroline says:

    ‘Round here, there’s quite a difference in what people call “sweet potato casseroles.” With or without nuts. With or without marshmallows. Shredded sweet potato or mashed sweet potato. With or without two whole sticks of butter. (Yikes! Clogged artery, anyone?). Sweet potato “pudding” is a whole other category. My family used to cook two different casseroles AND a pudding (when the extended family got together) just to cover all the sweet potato needs!

    I haven’t written a story centered around the Thanksgiving holiday, but I have written devotions on gratitude.

    Etta, I think you make an interesting observation about how worship used to occur more during this holiday. As a believer, it’s good to remember (and renew my mind daily!) that we have so much to be eternally thankful for, and that gratitude turns into praise and worship!

  • We play family games after the meal. Anything from Catchphrase to charades for the younger kids. Every year we try to introduce one new dish. The oyster stuffing wasn’t so great, but we have a cheese spinach dish that is wonderful. I’m doing roasted garlic butternut squash with grated parmesan this year and instead of apple pie, a white chocolate fudge torte. Glad my neighbors hens started laying again!

  • Laurie says:

    Etta,
    It’s good to see you posting again. Welcome home to TN.

    Though I’ve never written a Thanksgiving meal story or scene, I include thanksgiving to God in all I write.

    We had a rain storm last night and in the middle of my unending baking process, I stopped to take my dogs outside to their pen. I totally wiped out on the wet deck and now I’m hobbling around with a cane and wondering if I will be able to finish my baking. Our family does sit around and tell what we’re thankful for [on Thurs.] and this year I’ll be telling of my thankfulness for not breaking a bone or tearing a muscle…or whatever else is in my leg.

    I know this isn’t quite the intent of your blog, but I mostly wanted to say hello and welcome back to TN.

    PS. I’m going to try making my gramma’s famous raisin cake. I’m no real cook, so we’ll see what happens.

    I forgot the gravy one year, the stuffing the year before, and one year I forgot to thaw the frozen bird! I’m just not chef of the year material.

  • I’m not much of a cook but I adore Julie Child. Lucky you! To have first editions of her 3 volumes on French cooking!!!!

  • Etta Wilson Etta Wilson says:

    Wonderful comments on food and on being thankful. Maybe someone should collect all the humorous and, in Laurie’s case not so humorous, stories about our Thanksgiving cooking efforts. Melissa’s roasted garlic butternut squash has me salivating! Thanks for sharing your blog address, Brian.

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