Home Cooking Makes The Holiday
By Emma Davis
Assistant Food Editor
I spent Thanksgiving break in what was essentially a glorified cabin in the woods. With no Internet, no TV, and the nearest store at least 10 minutes away, our primary activities were eating, sitting by the fire, and playing Scrabble. In other words, aside from enjoying the peaceful rural setting, we were there for the food and the bonding.
When the time came on Thanksgiving Day to set out the meal, it was with growing glee that I carried dish after dish of holiday specials to the table, from the three types of stuffing and cranberry sauce to the trays of string beans and mac and cheese and the golden-skinned, gleaming turkey resting on its wooden carving platter. It was a feast that occupied literally half the table, resulting in an almost buffet-style extravaganza in which the centerpiece marked the divide between food and food-devourers.
Since there were only six of us (my parents, myself, and three family friends) there was no question that we would not be able to finish it all. Instead, as we passed around the gravy and various vegetable sides, we made light of the enormous amounts of leftovers ahead of us and compared recipes as we sampled each iteration of Brussels sprouts.
Sure, there were actual tears cried over the turkey, and, in an atypical perpetuation of gender roles, my mother and our female family friend spent two days in their respective kitchens slaving away to produce the meal’s many components. But, with a spread like that before you, and satisfied smiles on the faces of its chefs, wouldn’t you be hard- pressed to condemn home cooking and the mouth-sized miracles it delivers?
And, to add to the general success of our Thanksgiving’s culinary experience, it was the mounds of cold stuffing and green beans with almonds that got us through the evening and next day after the pump broke, and we had to survive without running water. In the end, not only did our homemade meal bring us together; it proved to be the true essence of Thanksgiving: after all, if you can celebrate with only good food and family in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, what else do you really need?
Enjoy the Company
By Erica DeMichiel
Assistant Food Editor
I consider myself to be an avid supporter of fresh, home-cooked foods, and I often recoil upon hearing the term “store-bought.” Though I am always grateful for the love and effort that go into making a meal, the holiday season is an inherently stressful time of year even without the added burden of hosting dinner parties. Food should certainly not be neglected at this time of year, but it should never become more important than enjoying the company of one’s friends and family.
While a home-cooked meal is a fantastic way to express appreciation for loved ones, preparing food should never feel like a chore for a host during the holiday season. From buying and wrapping presents, to cleaning and decorating the house, it’s hard to imagine anyone’s preparations for holiday festivities as being anxiety-free. Cooking a full, three-course meal on top of these other obligations could certainly make for an unpleasant holiday experience.
Of course, foregoing a home-cooked meal in favor of catering should not mean foregoing the quality of the meal. Though a host might opt to order food, care can still be apparent in the planning of the menu. If executed thoughtfully, having a catered meal need not be seen as a lazy alternative, but rather as a way in which a host can more fully enjoy the presence of hir guests.
Instead of slaving over a wide array of recipes (not to mention the inevitable cleanup process at the end), perhaps a host can prepare one or two special dishes supplemented by the catered meal. Not only will it be easier to tidy up, but it will also take a considerable amount of pressure off the host, who will then be able to devote hir attention to the friends and family ze might not see frequently.
Though food plays a significant role in holiday traditions, the most important part of any celebration is not quite as tangible. Though American culture would have us believe otherwise, stress should not be an intrinsic aspect of the holidays. Winter vacation is supposed to be an opportunity for us to temporarily escape a hectic work schedule, so this next month should be devoted far less to food preparation than to relaxation, reflection, and happiness.
After all, ’tis the season to be jolly!