A Thanksgiving miracle: No more gross holiday food

Watch Love Lust: Holiday Feasts, Monday, November 21 at 8PM on Sundance Channel

Logic would seem to dictate that if eating pumpkins seeds is my favorite thing about Halloween, Thanksgiving, a day devoted to eating, would be my ultimate holiday. I love cooking, I love gorging on things I cook, and I love making other people gorge on things I cook. The whole shebang should be my personal holy grail – a day full of so much culinary and gastronomical bliss that my head nearly explodes with pleasure. And it would be, if only I didn’t find Thanksgiving food so repulsive.

There was a time when I loved the bland mushiness of mashed potatoes and the soggy slop of stuffing shoved inside a dried out animal carcass. And what kid doesn’t like picking toasted marshmallows off of candied yams? I thought heaping my plate full of heavy, monochromatic food and meat that wasn’t “slimy” (my complaint with other proteins at the time) was the best thing since sliced, nutritionally-defunct Wonder Bread. It wasn’t until my junior year of college (when I began to develop, A) a palate, and B) a contrarian personality) that I first started to question the holiday.

“Pumpkin pie is sort of gross,” I observed to my mom that Thanksgiving as we sat on the couch, legs extended in front of us, with our whipped cream-topped slices. She set down her fork, considering. “Yeah,” she said finally, as though the thought had never occurred to her before.

I took another contemplative bite of the gelatinous filling, letting a thick wedge of crust linger on my tongue before swallowing. “Yep, it’s definitely gross.” I said, pushing my plate away. My mom did the same, and neither of us has eaten a slice of pumpkin pie since.

I don’t understand how a day that celebrates indulgence and overeating continues to involve such traditionally boring food. I cringe when I have to eat a turkey sandwich for lunch on an ordinary day; Why on earth would I be excited to spend hours preparing a turkey on the most food-focused holiday of the year? Even when it’s juicy, even when it’s seasoned and massaged with oil and butter and then drizzled with a thick coat of gravy, I still find it about as appetizing as a slab of meatloaf. And that’s before it gets dredged through a pile of potatoes mashed into baby food.

Last year my mom and I staged a revolt against monotony and baby food. With both my staunchly traditionalist brothers celebrating Thanksgiving elsewhere, we leapt upon the opportunity to prepare a potato and cauliflower gratin with gruyere cheese instead of those tired mashed potatoes. We hurled sweet potatoes out the window completely, instead filling our plates with roasted baby carrots and a warm Brussels sprouts salad with an apple cider vinaigrette. And instead of the loathsome pumpkin pie, we dug our forks into apple cranberry pie bars.

For once, we finished Thanksgiving dinner without feeling gluttonous just for the sake of gluttony. We felt gluttonous because we actually wanted to overeat everything on our plates. It was a Thanksgiving miracle. That, if my brothers have anything to say about it, will never happen again. They’re lucky I love them as much as I do. There are only a handful of people worth the pain of suffering through bites of baby food and monochromatic slop – particularly on the day that should be my holy grail.

Watch Love Lust: Holiday Feasts, Monday, November 21 at 8PM on Sundance Channel