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Anyone else dreaming of a non-traditional T-day dinner?

I don't know if this is an age thing (I'm 22) but I'm really tired of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner (please don't tell my mom). She throws an incredibly classy dinner-- a fantastic bird, incredible sides, amazing desserts, all made from scratch... but suddenly the thought of going through the turkey-stuffing-cranberrysauce-pumpkinpie routine AGAIN, no matter how good her versions are, is getting to me. Please someone chime in because I feel badly about this but I'd rather eat my hand than say anything to my awesome mom. At least knowing there are other chowies out there feeling the same will help, especially because I need to rally myself to help out in the kitchen on Wednesday.

And if you are putting together a non-traditional menu, I'd LOVE to hear it and keep your ideas in mind for when I can experiment on my own!

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  1. I am so with you on this, Amandine. To me, traditional Thanksgiving food is the blandest you can find. Even growing up I saw nothing special about it; I would have rather had any our typical Sunday fare than any of than the "special" Thanksgiving dishes. I haven't decided what I'll be making instead, but I'll keep checking this post for ideas. We will have one dinner guest this year, so I probably won't go too far out there.

    1. I'm completely with you. Thanksgiving has never been a favorite holiday of mine because I strongly dislike the traditional food (turkey, stuffing, etc.) But this year I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving because I get to go to my italian vegetarian SOL's for dinner. I have been told that the menu contains a lot of pasta and veggies. I can't wait!

      In the past this is what my mother did to try to "spice" up the traditional dishes.
      Instead of plain cranberry sauce-> cranberry mango, cranberry orange
      Instead of pumpkin pie -> pumpkin cheesecake
      Instead of sweet potatoe pie -> sweet potatoe pie with a pecan pie topping
      Instead of plain mashed potatoes-> mashed potatoes with leeks and cheese (I can't remember what type)

      1. While I'm totally with you on the food aspect, amandine (when was the last time T-Day dinner was a memorable culinary experience, especially for a Chowhound? Kitchen's too small, menu and guest list are too big to execute anything well, most of the food hits the table lukewarm at best because domestic kitchens generally only have one oven and most people have no idea how to cook a turkey anyway because they only get one crack at it a year -- and when they finally do, they're confronted with the tactical and logistical problems cited above). Instead I would encourage you to try to accept that, even for Chowhounds, Thanksgiving isn't actually about the food at all. It's about the family and friends surrounding you.
        Take it from a professional culinarian who has spent the past 12 Thanksgivings either working or searching in vain for a Chinese delivery place that stayed open. Count the blessings and endure the food. And try to have fun in spite of the inevitable annoyances. Good luck and good eating.

        6 Replies
        1. re: diropstim

          Well said diropstim. Enjoy Mom's stuff. There will be a day you will miss it more then you know.

          To the OP no offense but it sounds like you need to move away and do your own thing...or get a SO whose family does something different...or travel during the holiday. I use to take my Mom's cooking for granted...then I moved away and I never did again.

          1. re: ML8000

            I very much agree with this. My Mom's been deceased for over 12 years and I'd give anything to have her dry dressing with too much sage for Thanksgiving this year.

            1. re: Janet from Richmond

              That's what I was thinking, as well, Janet. That's likely why I was so touched by the recent thread about the daughter who wanted nothing more than marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes. What I wouldn't give to have my mom be able to make those again.

              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                My mother passed away 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. It was her favorite holiday, and our table would have your traditional Thanksgiving fare plus celebatory Chinese food. It was a fusion Thanksgiving before I even heard of the word "fusion"! Like others, what I would give to have my mother back again, sitting at the dining table with the rest of us.

              2. re: ML8000

                Even if I could, I would never willingly have T-day away from home. The menu can change, the people and the place should not!

                You are right though, I guess I was taking the cooking-with-mom thing a bit for granted. But I made the post mainly as a reaction to all the other posts I've been reading about what seems like family fights and internal conflicts springing up over who-brings-what and how to please everyone's dietary requirements while maintaining allegiance to the T-day traditions. I don't think any other day of the year can fire up so much consternation over food!

                1. re: amandine

                  Hey I'm all for non-traditional. Maybe one day when your mom gets tired for the full-on t-day thing (mine did) you can step in and do the non-traditional thing or a variation. It might be a good thing, be prepared. That's sort of what happened with my family.

                  As a kid an uncle and my brother went fishing and brought back fresh fish and my Mom was sort of tired and someone said we should cook the fish that day or it would be a waste/shame and we had the turkey a few days later. Funny thing is Mom suddenly saw the light, i.e., let someone else deal with it. At that time I actually felt a little weird that my family didn't to do the traditional thing until years later I realized it was less tense. Now my family's tradition is not to worry about it until the end. Keeps people much calmer.

            2. I definitely am! I'm jealous of Dommy!'s Thanksgiving this year... http://www.chowhound.com/topics/342879

              I think part of it is I don't like MIL's traditional Thanksgiving food as well as my mom's and we're all going over there this year... I'm a tad bitter, but trying to be a good sport! I suggested a Mexican Thanksgiving this year, but they vetoed that, although they did decide to do a Mexican Christmas! Another part of it is that I'm ready to skip over Thanksgiving and move on to Christmas... I've got most of my Christmas shopping done and I'm ready! I think one of my grandmas has done it the right way... they usually go out of town for Thanksgiving, last year was Vegas! ;-) No pressure to the traditional thing with her!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Katie Nell

                LOL!! You don't know HOW many year I had to fight for this though... even when I'd tell my friends that I didn't want turkey their reply was "But it's Thanksgiving!!!" as if that period of 24 hours magically made that vile gamey animal more tasty...

                But as we've talked bout it several times here on CH, the food in this holiday is so much MORE than a nice dinner to some folks. Even Bobby Flay recently admited that a member of his family won't come to his dinner if he doesn't have that awful can of jellied cranberry sauce...

                --Dommy!

              2. nope,
                looking forward to pumpkin pie, roast turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy with giblets, etc. Its only once a year. I dont get why some folks have an issue with tradition. Save your "fancy" meals for New Years Eve, or a Saturday night get together.

                2 Replies
                1. re: swsidejim

                  Just for the record, I adore tradition, probably to the extent of being an annoyance, but just not into Turkey Day, for some reason!

                  1. re: Katie Nell

                    For me its less about what I eat that day, and more about the family and friends I get to enjoy time with. But for me there is something about the great smells of roasted turkey, pumpkin pies, etc that fill the house that brings back great memories of childhood.