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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Is holiday food worth looking forward to anymore?

Two of our Guilfordian staff writers describe what they do, and mostly don’t, like about holiday fare.
Former President Barack Obama pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey, the staple food of that holiday //Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Former President Barack Obama pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey, the staple food of that holiday //Photo via Wikimedia Commons

By Grady Tarleton

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes gifts, breaks, and seasonal foods that we save for only a few days every year. Some of them are good, some of them are meh and a lot of them I really don’t like.

Thanksgiving is the most imminent holiday, and the one with the most recognizable spread: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and rolls. There are also a few more niche dishes like corn pudding, a dish that is popular at Thanksgiving celebrations in the Southern states. I really like corn pudding, but I strongly dislike a lot of the other traditional Thanksgiving foods–especially stuffing.

Stuffing is basically a mound of breadcrumbs and celery with a few tiny slices of onion mixed in. It’s always cold and it’s not too pretty to look at. The texture is weird, it’s crumbly but also soggy at the same time, and there’s basically no flavor to speak of. 

 The reason it’s so nasty is because stuffing is just an assortment of little bits of garbage that we shove inside of the turkey to keep it from getting dry in the oven. Which doesn’t help, by the way. I’ve had Thanksgiving turkeys baked, roasted and fried, but no matter how they’re cooked, the turkeys always end up drier than a sand-soaked raisin in the deserts of Arizona.

Even outside of Thanksgiving I’m just not a fan of turkey. A big part of this is that ground turkey is used as a substitute for other meats in a lot of healthy recipes, alongside foods like eggplant or mushrooms–but none of them make a suitable replacement. 

If a recipe calls for one thing, you can’t just replace it with another thing and expect it to taste the same. I don’t care if my food is healthy, I just want it to taste good. And in my opinion, turkey does not taste good; it tastes like paper.

There are a few good foods at Thanksgiving dinners, though. Pumpkin pie is fine, although I personally prefer pecan pie. There’s usually some good bread, like the challah my neighbors used to bring or the sweet and buttery yeast rolls that you can buy at the grocery store. There are green beans, which are fine, there are brussel sprouts, which are only good if they’re cooked right, and there’s okra, which is usually pretty great. But my favorite Thanksgiving food is the gravy.

Gravy is the one thing that can save a Thanksgiving turkey, the one thing that can elevate that bird from a dried-out piece of trash into something that is actually worth eating. It can make bad food good or good food better, like if you put it on mashed potatoes. I don’t even think it’s possible for gravy to ruin food, even if you put it on something that seems like a bad combination, like bread.

Thanksgiving isn’t the only holiday around this time of year, either. In December, there’s Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and New Year’s Day. I’ll admit, I’m not very familiar with Kwanza, so I wouldn’t know what foods are associated with it. But I do know about Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years, and I know that a lot of the traditional foods served on those days are not very good.

Christmas and New Years actually have pretty similar spreads in my family. Ham, collard greens, mashed potatoes and bread. I love mashed potatoes, especially with gravy. I don’t really have any strong feelings about collard greens, but I do not like ham at all.

The problem with turkey is that it’s too dry–it chews and tastes like wood. The problem with ham is kind of the opposite, it’s basically just pink, rubbery fat. Turkey is bland enough to be repulsive, but ham is actively disgusting, and I never eat it outside of these holidays.

On the better side of things, the few Hanukkah foods I’m familiar with are actually pretty good. The two that I know are latkes, which are potato pancakes, and challah loaves, which are a kind of brioche. Both of them are rich and buttery. They have simple flavors but they taste good–way better than anything my family eats at Christmas or Thanksgiving.

If I had it my way, there wouldn’t be such a thing as holiday foods. I just want to eat normally and not have to worry about dry turkey or chewy ham. If you celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, or New Years, and you feel the same way I do, my advice to you is to simply break tradition. Don’t cook what’s customary. Cook what tastes good to you.

By Derrick Wilson

When it comes down to Thanksgiving dinner I don’t really mind what is being served.

I really just like any type of food except cabbage, dressing, certain kinds of turkey and beets.

When I say a certain type of turkey, I mean the way people make it or what kind of seasoning they use, because I know some people like to leave a lot of fat. Another problem with turkey is that it is often dry, which I don’t like. I can eat it if it has some kind of gravy but if it’s by itself and tastes dry, I won’t eat it.

The reason I dislike cabbage is the texture, taste,smell and the fact that some people put vinegar in cabbage. I have tried my best to try to ignore the texture of it but my stomach just can’t tolerate it. It makes me feel like I’m eating slimy baby food.

I don’t know how many families serve stuffing anymore but sometimes my family will call it stuffed dressing. Something about the way it’s made makes me not want to eat it. Why does it feel that way when you chew it? It smells nice but other than that, I don’t really like stuffing.

My family doesn’t cook beets except my mom because the way they look is just concerning.The first time I tried beets was when I was 11 years old and my mom was fixing dinner. She went in the fridge and she pulled out this weird jar and I was confused about what was inside. My first thought of what it could be was pig feet or just really big, weird-shaped olives.

Personally, I feel like beets, cabbage and stuffing should not be considered necessary thanksgiving foods, because the way that they are served isn’t appetizing. When it comes to turkey I feel like I can make an exception, but it has to be a well-cooked piece of turkey, with the right amount of seasoning and the “right” amount of juice on it so it won’t be dry and hard to swallow.

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