I will fully admit that I was a Thanksgiving hater up until a few years ago. I would argue most kids are, because with Thanksgiving comes the mentality, “What’s in it for me?” It lands smack dab in the middle between Halloween, where neighbors give you candy for free as long as you put on a $19.99 Party City getup, and the winter holidays, where you are gifted presents for one magical day — or maybe even better, eight magical days. Department stores are also to blame for this, considering wrapping paper, gingerbread houses and holiday decorations get shoved in your face right as you take your first step into Target in November. But more recently, I have longed for the easily glossed-over holiday, and I dream of stuffing my face with turkey as my family members press me with questions about school, my future and, worst of all, my love life.
After I clear my second plate of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and some random vegetable that I am willing to taste considering it’s smothered in gravy, I say the classic line, “I couldn’t possibly eat another thing.” Yet, one whiff of a cinnamon-smelling treat and all of a sudden, the food in my stomach slides on over to one side, making more room. Because there is always room for dessert. But which dessert shall it be?
Now, for some reason, the dessert plates — whether they be paper, plastic or the real heavy-duty stuff — are always smaller than dinner plates. So, tough decisions must be made regarding what you will fit within the bounds of your miniature plate.
For starters, nothing says Thanksgiving like pumpkin pie. You can tell the difference between homemade and store-bought right away. Take caution with a store-bought pumpkin pie, unless it is from Costco. Costco’s recipe, dating back to 1987, has perfected the seasonal spice blend and the creamy pumpkin mouthfeel. You can freeze it until Thanksgiving, knowing the thawing process will go smoothly. It’s also way easier and cheaper than a homemade process. When constructing a pumpkin pie, the crust must be partially baked and then frozen to make sure the pie filling doesn’t make the crust soggy. But to ensure it doesn’t puff up and leave no room for filling, which we all know is the best part, one must use pie weights. These spherical ceramic weights are helpful in theory, but add another layer of difficulty to an already challenging recipe. While having a slice is traditional, don’t overdo it on the pumpkin pie, as there are better, tastier options to come. Just remember the whipped cream. But, don’t use nonfat — it’s Thanksgiving, for crying out loud.
So now that a tiny sliver is on your plate, you glance over to the apple pie. Apples are in season in the autumn, and the cinnamon and nutmeg elevate the flavor that much more. Don’t forget that apple pie isn’t only fortified on the bottom like its pumpkin counterpart, but it also has a little crust helmet to enclose the rich flavor. Unlike a good old pumpkin pie, an apple pie is far superior when it is made from scratch. The bubbles or the burnt flakes of the crust aren’t imperfections — rather, they add character to the pie. The real debate lies in whether to use Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples. The only right way to eat apple pie is to warm it up and serve it with vanilla ice cream. Another way to say this is “a la mode,” which comes from the French derivation meaning “stylish.” I guess apple pie isn’t as American as I assumed. Apple pie is served at almost any holiday or event. From the Fourth of July to a back-to-school bake sale, apple pie will never stray far. Because of this, don’t fret about skipping a piece. Apple pie is too classic to be considered just a Thanksgiving dessert. You will probably have a slice on New Year’s Day, anyway.
Finally, the pecan pie catches your eye. The jury is still out on the pronunciation of the word “pecan,” but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the placement of the nuts within the pie. If the nuts are just floating atop the cinnamon gooey substance of the filling — don’t ask me what it is — then skip it altogether. But if the pecans are intermixed with the filling, then grab that pie spatula faster than your aunt can say, “You aren’t full yet?” This pie is constantly overshadowed by the previous two, but it deserves the spotlight. You can even top it with whipped cream or ice cream, it doesn’t matter. That is why it is the ultimate Thanksgiving dessert. Well, that reason and because you can have it for breakfast with a cup of coffee, and no one will bat an eye about the fact that you just consumed 100 grams of sugar before 9 a.m. It is clear that pecan pie reigns superior.
So, with the space left on your plate, do you walk away from the table, or do you wedge in a brownie or two? I say, go for it! It’s Thanksgiving, and you packed your sweatpants anyway, considering unbuttoning your pants at the dinner table is “not cool.” Yeah right, mom. Just maybe stay away from the decorated desserts your little cousins made — they are supposed to look like turkeys, but it just looks like icing and germs have thrown up on a rock-hard sugar cookie.
Carol Dineen is a freshman majoring in chemistry.