Thanksgiving is probably the most old-school of American holidays. There’s not a lot to commercialize in the form of merchandise or gifts beyond food. Blood banks and soup kitchens do well this time of year. The airline industry sees an enormous spike in customers. Beyond that, Thanksgiving still belongs to us. I’ve celebrated the holiday numerous places both in and out of the country and I’ve found that it all boils down to family, friends, a good meal and football. Here are a few places where you can enjoy an unusual American Thanksgiving.
New York City: Basically, unless your one of the few who has an apartment in Manhattan, chances are you’re going to go out to eat for Thanksgiving in New York City. Given the cornucopia of fine dining establishments in the city, there’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever. In 2006 I had Thanksgiving dinner at Matzaluna, a French-themed restaurant located inside Grand Central Station. My father, my brother, my sister-in-law and I dined on roast duck, potatoes with a hint of gorgonzola and garlic green beans under the dim lights of that magnificent chamber. Looking out across the concourse we noticed how empty the old place was and we felt bad for the few passengers who were stuck in transit on this quintessential family holiday.
The Rocky Mountains: For ski and snowboard aficionados, any extended holiday between October and April is a good excuse to go skiing. Ski resorts are well aware of the boost and actually cater to it. By the end of November, most of the major ski resorts have had enough snow to cover their main slopes. Resorts like Vail will make up for any deficiencies artificially. Hotels will be expensive and you should book in advance. It’s a good idea to have reservations for restaurants in Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge and other popular towns. Another option is staying in Boulder or Nederland and driving up to El Dora, one of the western most resorts. Coloradoans have embraced the organic food movement like nowhere else in America and Thanksgiving dinner at a Colorado restaurant will no doubt feature free range turkey, duck or goose and organic vegetables. Since moving to Boulder it’s become a tradition in my home to pre-order an organic turkey from Whole Foods.
Savannah: No other region of the United States enjoys a cuisine as distinctive as the American South. Southerners have, not surprisingly, therefore imparted a few unique twists on the traditional Thanksgiving meal. The most unusual of these has to be the deep-fried turkey. Deep frying a Turkey requires a special deep frying vat. The process of cooking the Turkey is much faster and slightly dangerous. This Paula Dean recipe calls for 35 minutes of cooking time for a 10 pound Turkey. Paula Dean’s restaurant is located in the South, one of the most quintessentially Southern and most charming of American cities. In 2005 my sister-in-law Sarah, while in AmeriCorps, enjoyed a home cooked Thanksgiving meal at the home of her host, Alison. The feast served 12 people and featured fried turkey, fried okra, scalloped potatoes with Vidalia onions, yams and marshmallows. For dessert there was apple pie, pumpkin pie and, of course, banana-cream-pudding-pie. She describes the meal as salty, sweet, filling and delicious.