Afternoon Inquisition

AI: What’s your tradition?

Since Elyse already started the whole it’s-Thanksgiving-slash-holiday-time-in-the-US-so-we-must-talk-mostly-about-food trend, I feel compelled to carry on.

But this is not a post just for my fellow Americans who might be turkey roasting and such today, this is for all of us.  Because even if you’re not cooking a traditional holiday meal today, it’s very likely you either cook or eat at least one “traditional holiday dinner” during the year. And there is very likely something totally not “traditional” about it.

Oh, sure, it’s your tradition, but you know it’s weird. That might even be what’s great about it, in fact. I have friends who have peanut butter & jelly sandwiches on the table next to the green bean casserole.( Yeah, I said PB & J sammies.) Another table is set with yams, turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberries … and baked ziti. At yet another friend’s house there will be deep-fried turkey and pepperoni pizza. For me, it’s cheesecakes instead of pie.

Nothing wrong with any of that, by the way. Celebrate however makes you happy.  But PB & J? That’s non-traditional for sure.

What unusual “traditional” things grace your celebratory table?


The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.


A B Kovacs is the Director of Døøm at Empty Set Entertainment, a publishing company she co-founded with critical thinker and fiction author Scott Sigler. She considers herself a “Creative Adjacent” — helping creative people be more productive and prolific by managing the logistics of Making for the masses. She's a science nerd, a rabid movie geek, and an unrepentantly voracious reader. She doesn't like chocolate all that much.

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  1. We forage for wild grapes and other forestey stuff. We make gluten free eggplant and spiced sauce with local organic cranberries. And we make a Fool, the easiest dessert in the world. Table decor celebrates The Harvest and our Native American friends.

  2. On the Italian side of my family we always did Christmas Eve, but (oddly) not the Italian version of Christmas Eve, which tends toward fish as a (Catholic) fast day. No, we’d do sausage, peppers, and all the rest on the 24th, for some reason I’ll never quite know (but might associate with my mother’s distaste for seafood).

    That said, Thanksgiving is still my favourite holiday, and now that I’m an American in Canada I’m more than happy to celebrate twice!

    1. It’s always on the holidays that I wish there was some Italian heritage in my family. Growing up in New York I knew many friends who had great big wonderful Italian feasts. One family even had a vast spread with pasta and gravy and whole fish and pounded veal and all sort of loveliness, with a *tiny* turkey breast and cranberry sauce somewhere on the sidebar, just in case the Thanksgiving Police showed up.

      1. Being from the West Coast, it was not until a few years ago I learned that Tri-state Italians called sauce “gravy.” Even now when I hear “pasta and gravy” I think of some kind of noodle-poutine monstrosity.

        Speaking of Turkey and cranberry sauce (and Italians), perhaps the least endearing passage of Marcella Hazan’s (the Julia Child of Italian cuisine) autobiography is the one in which she describes her first Thanksgiving in America and her utter revulsion for cranberry sauce and all other traditional American dishes wherein meat is paired with something sweet–a really unkind sort of culinary xenophobia that was tinged with moral disapproval.

  3. Tamales and beans & cornbread are pretty common regional traditions here.

    We also have a (Christian) prayer for our (Cherokee) ancestors, followed by (American) Thanksgiving dinner.

    We’re kind of a strange nation, aren’t we?

  4. We’re pretty traditional around the major holidays, but we have a new tradition started by the oldest Hellion, wherein we celebrate the Winter Solstice by having breakfast for dinner to commemorate the longest night of the year.

  5. A.real.girl,

    There’s nothing really special about my family’s Thanks giving traditions, you know visit the relatives, have a feast and give thanks, except that its a bit hard on me since I never eat the ham or the turkey. I’m not a vegetarian, I just don’t enjoy either of the two main Thanksgiving meats for some reason.

  6. The only real tradition in our family as far as food goes is that everyone has to bring something to the feast, and you can’t bring something you’ve brought before! We usually end up with some “traditional” foods like pie or ham, but since different people make different things every year there is quite a bit of variety.

  7. Never really felt as having a tradition of my own.
    Just whatever my family does (be it my parents or my other relatives).

    And in both, nothing special exists about them.

    Only “tradition” I did enjoy was when I was still on the Enterprise. During deployment, each Sunday was traditionally steak and lobster night. Loved it.

  8. Although Aussie Xmas is usually prawns on the barby, we go the English traditional thing, slightly modified. i.e. turkey and baked veggies.

    One year we had as part of the veggies mashed sweet potatoe topped with melted marshmallows. A Nigella Lawson recipe (that’s “Look at these snowy peaks” or “Let’s face it these puppies are worth money” Nigella. All the while the camera is focussed on her boobs while the commentary applies to the article in front Nigella.) Is she an item in the US at all?

    The other thing a bit different was, the old man used to cook the turkey in the Webber along with a damper as well. Highly recommended!

    But that’s nothing to what somebody used to do, which was snail mornay! Only afterwards were the guests told…

  9. Growing up my mom make rice and pigeon peas and would roast a pork stuffed with mofongo (smashed green plantains with garlic and pork grinds).

    On my house we usually do Turkey with bacon inside the meat. Rice and red Kidney beans and arañitas (spider shaped fried green plantains).

  10. My cousins and I forced our parents’ generation and above to deal with a traditional American Thanksgiving (sans booze and ham, granted) — no cheating, meaning no biryani or curry on the side. They’ve learned to love it, especially my nearly-90-year-old grandma, who enjoys the change of pace. Then, every couple of years, we do a cousins-only Thanksgiving where we can let our hair down and enjoy not having to play the Parental Appeasement game.

    1. Biryani and curry on the side sounds pretty damn good to me!

      Tell me, have you got into the delights of pork in all its forms or are you still a bit traditional in that respect?

      Please forgive my nosiness, but there is a whole world of wonders for you right there!

  11. criticaldragon.
    One of my daughters would be glad to have a kindred spirit on that turkey and ham thing. We now do chicken as well so she can have some meat on Xmas Day. She wouldn’t go hungry because there’s mountains of other food, but there you go. (Her real problem was that she dislikes ordinary plum pudding. Now we’ve discovered a *horrendously* expensive gourmet pudding maker, she at least can top up with dessert.)

    Now other daughter’s family are involved they bring along roast pork – more mountains of food.

  12. Oh snap! I just had an email from daughter & family in Seattle for their first Thanksgiving, and they had – mashed sweet potato topped with marshmallows!

    So is that a US dish that Nigella picked up, or vice versa?

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