D.L. STEWART: Turkey with purple grain roasted beets? No thanks

Nov 11, 2017

America’s values once again are under attack. The customs that made this the greatest country on Earth are threatened. Our very existence as a nation is imperiled. In other words, people are messing with Thanksgiving again.

For most of our history, Thanksgiving has been a holiday beloved by real Americans for its no-nonsense menu – turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, soggy canned green beans covered with goopy mushroom soup and weird little things alleged to be onion rings. But, increasingly, it’s being perverted by hotsy-totsy food writers who have no respect for tradition and quite possibly should be investigated by Robert Mueller.

In last week’s Parade magazine, for instance, an article encouraged its readers to put beets on their tables next to the turkey. Beets! And not just any beets, which are reprehensible enough by themselves. Their recipe called for “purple grain roasted beets tossed with barley, pecans and a balsamic reduction.” Historians may not agree on what our forefathers and foremothers shared with native Americans at the first Thanksgiving meal, but I’m absolutely positive it had nothing to do with balsamic reductions.

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Another Parade recipe featured sweet potatoes. Unlike beets, sweet potatoes clearly have earned their place on our Thanksgiving tables. Especially if they’re covered with tiny little marshmallows and baked in the oven until they burst into flame. (At our house the sound of the smoke alarm going off is the official signal that Thanksgiving dinner is ready.) But, not content to leave well enough alone, these food anarchists are urging us to cover our sweet potatoes with tahini, cilantro and sesame seeds. That may be a big hit at Thanksgiving dinners in Cairo, but here in the heartland it’s clearly unAmerican. What’s next, watching soccer games after dinner instead of football?

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Parade isn’t alone. Food and Wine recommends “cauliflower steaks with herb salasa verde” and an “olive, walnut and pomegranate dip.” Redbook wants us to include “Black-eyed peas with coconut milk and Ethiopian spices.” Saveur thinks your family’s eyes will light up with delight when you bring a heaping bowl of hashed turnips to the table.

It’s not that I’m resistant to change or unwilling to try new foods. Just last year I even agreed to accept my wife’s cranberries with nuts and stuff in them instead of the cranberry sauce that mom used to slither out of its can.

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But for one day a year I draw the line at sauteed Brussels sprouts, kale and horseradish potatoes, or sautéed escarole with leeks. None of those dishes will make America great again. And if you serve stuff like that at our house on Thanksgiving, my guess is that the leftovers will last until well past Christmas.