Memorable Mondays started out as a joke, but has since evolved into monthly nostalgic food posts. They are posted on the second Monday of every month (except for this month) and cover a wide range of food topics that influenced me as a child.
If I was one for ridiculously long post titles, this would be called ‘Memorable Mondays: Persian/German/American Thanksgiving in Baltimore.” Since I’m not one for those kinds of titles, I instead just waste a few minutes of your time explaining what the title should be within the post itself. Does it make sense? No. Am I going to do it in the future? Probably.
Thanksgiving has never been a holiday that I get excited about. The being thankful thing is nice, but the rest of it is a bit baffling. First of all, I don’t enjoy football. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I even realized the quarterback isn’t on the field during the entire game. Honestly, why do people have the strongest opinions about this position? What is the logic in that? Who cares about the guy with the cushy job who doesn’t have to play the whole time? It makes no sense to me.
Besides the whole football thing, which can be avoided easily enough, I am not super into Thanksgiving food. Half the reason why Thanksgiving was created was to force people to eat the meat with which they normally wouldn’t bother. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of chicken, but turkey is chicken’s black sheep brother that chain smokes, binge drinks, and has the occasional coke problem. Almost as bad as the turkey are the green beans that litter most tables on this holiday. It’s a madness that I don’t want any part of it.
I am, however, a fan of the way my family has put its own spin on the holiday. Growing up, I was more concerned with watching Snoopy float over Manhattan at eight in the morning than I was with eating, but I was still passionate about food. I was either the only or eldest kid at our Thanksgiving meals depending on what part of the 90s it was, so there wasn’t much for me to do except eat and watch my grandma cook. When dinner came around, I would load my plate up with homemade cranberry sauce, buttery mashed potatoes, and mast o khiar (cucumber yogurt) before moving onto the pressing matter of dessert. Even seven-year-old Jaleh knew that the main food of Thanksgiving is a bit of a loser.
My favorite Thanksgiving course is still dessert, especially my mom’s pecan tort, but I have branched out a bit. Now, my plate often features the same elements it did when I was younger along with filet, homemade stuffing (no Stovetop here), and sauerkraut. My blue-eyed grandma is of German descent, so she is no stranger to this tart dish that is more satisfying than any slice of turkey could be. She’s great about giving us a ton of options with which to load our plate up that highlight different cultures; it’s great for me and all the judgment I pass on the traditional Thanksgiving meal.
While the main meal is important, I go to town on the appetizers I always inhale every hour on the hour. The snacks that are set out by eleven a.m. are some of my favorite things to eat: crab dip, peel-and-eat shrimp, cheese, and of course the bugles that I used to wear as witch fingers until I was a “too cool” teen. The food snob that has existed inside of me since birth loves all of these flavorful, decadent things. I gorge myself before dinner and feel no shame.
Though Thanksgiving has never been holiday numero uno for me, it’s one I’ve come to appreciate. Turkey and I have never been nor will never be BBFs, but there’s so much more great food that the holiday has to offer. The classic dishes like mashed potatoes are homey and the cultural options on the table put our own unique familial spin on a meal that pretty much ever American has an opinion on. We’re not a typical family and we don’t do Thanksgiving typically…although I will admit that there are a lot of drinks flowing, so I guess we do stick with some normal holiday traditions!