We're big fans of Thanksgiving and usually try to write a post. This year we wanted to stick with our preferred genre and write about something undercovered or underloved in other media. In 2005 we wrote about that the myth that tryptophan causes post Thanksgiving meal sleepiness, a myth that is now pretty much a Thanksgiving Day media meme.
We didn't want to write a Thanksgiving holiday-history story because whatever is not covered in 1st and 2nd grade is almost always politically freighted. Wanting to stay away from politics, we decided to write about food again. But ironically, we were inspired by politicians who, collectively deadlocked on all the really important issues, always manage to muster up recipes to share with reporters. What in this world isn't political, I guess?
We can't imagine where the recipe sharing inclinations came from. Is this a lingering tradition from times when churches, ladies groups, and neighborhood potluck groups all put out recipe books full of jello salads and Aunt So-and-so's meatloaf? Still, I can't imagine announcing that for tonight's dessert we'll be enjoying Rick Santorum's "Apple Tarte Tatin"!!
But it seems popular. Last week, for instance, Representative Nancy Pelosi shared her chocolate mousse recipe -- a Thanksgiving Day tradition in her home. It has 1 pound of dark chocolate, 8 ounces of butter, 8 eggs, 4 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 a cup of heavy cream. She's thin, she's not eating too much of this. It's probably delicious -- The Hill has to whole recipe -- but you have to admit it's not exactly a heart-happy dessert. Michelle Obama would disapprove of this recipe, and the GOP would no doubt accuse Pelosi of excessive caloric spending. To model the antithetic thriftiness, I'm sure, Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Hill he was looking forward to his mother's turkey brine. He wouldn't give the publication the recipe.
What To Write
I don't know about turkey brine, so I looked on the Food Network, which has this. Turkey brine has peppercorns, allspice berries, salt, rosemary, sage, and other sundry spices and herbs, plus vinegar. Don't knock turkey brine, a whopping 3,603 people endorsed that Food Network recipe. Perhaps Mrs. Boehner's secret recipe is better, but I'd bet my party on 3,603 votes if I were going that way. Apparently one soaks their turkey in the brine before cooking. The whole process takes about 10 hours, so you have to be comfortable cooking on Congress-Time. Hopefully John's mom adds extra "sage" that is magically, surrealistically absorbed by anyone who eats/drinks the brine.
Speaking of sage and wisdom, North Carolina Congressman Howard Coble had a truly brain related recipe called, actually, "Brains N'Eggs", which he described as a can of "brains in gravy", "preferably" Rose Brand, with bacon grease and eggs. His mother served served him this "not at all unusual" breakfast, that alas it can't be found in Washington D.C., he reported.
What To Write
If your a politician, your recipe can send a message. Chocolate mousse would be a universal people-pleaser. Pork brains sends a different message, obviously it depends on what you're going for. Politicians also use recipes to remind people of their heritage, like Olympia Snowe's "Baklava". Others donate recipe's reminiscent of their state, Senator John Kerry's "Massachusetts Cranberry Bread" for instance. Some offer what I think of as anti-cooking, like former NY Congressman Sue Kelly's "microwave chicken": chicken, microwave, a bottle of your "favorite" salad dressing, and water.Some long-serving productive politicians like former Senator Edward Kennedy never dished out recipes to the media. One Rockefeller gave out four. Others who were only very briefly in office must have entered with a recipe in hand, like Sarah Palin and her Alaska Crab Wrap Sandwich, which, if I weren't allergic to crab, I might like her best for.
Ignoring all good evidence, Californians ousted Governor Gray Davis in favor of Governor Schwarzenegger, who was obviously too busy with other household chores to write recipes for reporters. Davis got served up lemons and gave the press his Lemon Chicken recipe.
So back to our unchosen subject. We're weary of pumpkin pie, we've done turkey, cranberries are all bogs and antioxidants, what's left? We could talk about the turkey dinner where they actually go and feed the turkeys? Hmmm...Brussels sprouts? The thing about Brussels sprouts is nobody writes about them because they're only slightly more popular, I wager, than canned pork brains scrambled with eggs and grease.
Nobody knows where Brussels sprouts originated, unlike the excellently documented domesticated turkey. Most people agree they don't come from Belgium but some say they're actually a centuries old source of "Flemish national pride". It seems like when it comes to Brussel Sprout's, everyone's making something up. A few say they originated in Rome where they were thought to make people smarter, or maybe they were popularized in WWI, or maybe they came to Louisiana when the French immigrated, or maybe they're the most disliked British vegetable...on and on.
But they are considered healthy for many reasons, like because they contain sulfoaphane and indole-3-carbinol and a lot of research finds they have anti-cancer properties.. They look pretty cool on the vine. And to eat? Curried? Roasted?
Best wishes to all and Happy Thanksgiving to those readers who have a holiday.