Even though everyone began coming over to our house for Thanksgiving dinner, everyone still wanted to bring their classic dishes to the meal. This lead to our most prominent of family traditions, having each one of us cooks one dish for our meal. It's kind of like a pot luck, except that we're all in one family, and we are kind of aware of each person's niche. Even when I was very, very little, I tried to create some sort of dish to bring to the table. Unfortunately, this lead to my most noxious and infamous creation, my attempt at making "weenie gelatin", something that I had discovered Jon making in a 1984 Garfield comic. While later in life I would discover pates, headcheeses, and other terrines, my concoction was barely edible, and one of those humbling failures that your family never ever lets you forget. Luckily, I have since then made up for it with some very satisfying dishes. My first ever successful dish in fact was at Thanksgiving, when I learned to chop carrots, celery, onions, a little chinese parsely, and simmer it with chicken stock and bread crumbs to make some decent turkey dressing. These days my contributions have been a little more seasoned and practiced, but I still like to use holidays like Thanksgiving to innovate new dishes for my family to try, sometimes more successfully than others.
My mom also makes simply the best turkey gravy in the world. This gravy is so spectacular, that when I was growing up, I would be satisfied with just the gravy and rice, and nothing else. It doesn't taste anything like your standard brown gravy from a can. She starts with all of the dripping from the turkey itself. Therefore, as spectacular as her turkey is, her gravy will imbibe all of that awesomeness. She uses all of the discarded parts of every vegetable she has used in all of her dishes to make a stock which she adds to the gravy. So every year the gravy is made from the totality of whatever it is she's cooking. The gravy takes on the personality of the enitre Thanksgiving feast. It is awesome atop my Aunty's mashed potatoes.
To me, food certianly isn't all about nourishment. It is about culture, memories, and of course pleasure. Thanksgiving dinner pretty much embodies and exemplifies all of these treasured ideals, and this year was no exception.