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When is thanksgiving?

Soop Sep 23, 2009 02:33 AM

I might celebrate it (well, cook a meal at least). I think it's about thanking the native Americans. This is what I know about the traditional meal:
Roast turkey
Mashed potatoes (unless creamed means something else)
Sweetcorn (on the cob?)
Pumpkin pie.

Sounds a bit unexciting actually - do you have any traditional alternatives? I don't think I'd like that for a Sunday lunch :/

How about this:
Roast chicken, roast potatoes, and something green, like cabbage. And a nice gravy.

  1. The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 04:01 AM

    Thanksgiving is celebrated on different days in the U.S. and Canada... In the U.S., it's always the fourth Thursday of November. In Canada, I believe it's on the second Monday of October.

    In the U.S., there's a lot of legend around "the first" Thanksgiving with Native Americans and Pilgrims that I've come to ignore. I personally celebrate it as a harvest feast. Also, for me personally, it signals the start of the month and a half long season that I avoid all shopping malls.

    But, for U.S. Thanksgiving, I'm sorry, but the roast turkey is more or less non-negotiable. At least in my house. I've posted in the past about how, one year, I served a green chile turkey stew for Thanksgiving and how that did not go over well. If you had a very small group to feed, you might get away with a roast chicken, but, seriously, I'd still just do a small turkey. (You have to have enough for leftovers/turkey sandwich the next day!)

    Thanksgiving traditions vary from family to family, but

    ~Roast turkey, YES (some people use other cooking methods, like deep-frying, but I always roast. There are a million variations. We only roast a turkey 1 or 2 times a year--hardly something to become bored with. And the reason for turkey? Wild turkey is native to North America.)
    ~Mashed potatoes WITH gravy, YES. Some families serve sweet potatoes or squash.
    ~Corn, probably not. Very likely not on the cob that time of year (depending on where you live). Some vegetable is essential, of course. We always had green beans.
    ~Pumpkin pie, absolutely. Pecan pie is traditional, too.
    ~Must have cranberry sauce!
    ~Must have stuffing or dressing (the debate rages about whether you actually stuff your bird or not).
    ~And a nice dinner roll or biscuit.

    At my house, that's pretty much it. As far as your proposed menu, as far as my family would be concerned: Roast chicken, no. Roast potatoes , no. Something green, sure. Gravy, essential.

    I like Chuck Williams Classic Thanksgiving menu, but, as you can see, even they have numerous proposed menus. http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe...

    39 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen
      Soop Sep 23, 2009 04:15 AM

      Ok, thanks for this. It will only be me and my girlfriend. She likes mash, and I make it with *way* too much butter. I guess it could turn out ok. but I guess because I'm in the UK, I could cheat more >__> I could roast goose...

      Thanks for that though, that's answered everything ^__^

      1. re: Soop
        The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 04:23 AM

        Is your girlfriend American and you're trying to make her feel like she's at home? Or, are you just trying to have a fun American-esque cultural experience?

        If the latter, heck, mix it up, do whatever you want. :) An old Brit friend of mine used to call Thanksgiving, "practice for Christmas dinner" and they went ahead and did their entire traditional Christmas dinner --goose and all-- on Thanksgiving Day.

        But, if she's American and you're trying to make it feel like home for her, my guess is, she'd really appreciate the turkey. You could either do a small one or even just roast a turkey breast. I wouldn't think you'd need as much butter in the mashed potatoes if you planned on covering them with gravy. But, there are a million variations out there on the mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes/squash them. I'm sure you can work something out.


        1. re: The Dairy Queen
          Soop Sep 23, 2009 04:25 AM

          Thanks :) she's English too, so we're just gonna have fun.
          I'm going to try and collect some of my American friends' experiences on a completely unrelated forum :D

          1. re: Soop
            The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 04:27 AM

            Sounds fun! Don't forget to set the television to the Detroit and Dallas Cowboys games!


            1. re: The Dairy Queen
              Soop Sep 23, 2009 04:32 AM

              OMG, two of my worst teams! I haven't watched in a while, and they added two divisions to the AFC and NFC, but back in the day, the Lions used to be in my teams division (Chicago Bears!). At least they always used to be bottom.
              Can't quite remember why I hate the Cowboys. I also hate the Bucks, but for some reason, not Minnesota or Green bay .

              1. re: Soop
                The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 04:38 AM

                Sorry, like turkey, Cowboys and Lions (but not against each other) are non-negotiable, too. ;-) Those are the two teams whose games have been shown on Thanksgiving Day for years and years (don't ask me why. I don't know as it's not about food.)

                My husband reports that in his family, since Thanksgiving falls near hunting season, they would also sometimes opt for pheasant, duck, or maybe goose [whatever the hunters brought home!], except that they would save the latter for Christmas dinner if they had the choice. So, he believes the turkey is negotiable, as long as you hunted the game yourself. :).


                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                  clepro Sep 23, 2009 11:39 AM

                  All this talk about non-negotiables makes me want to negotiate. There are no games on the TV at our house on Thanksgiving. And for about a decade, we swapped the turkey for paella.

                  Although I am a traditional turkey dinner fan, it was great fun put that huge pan of paella in the center of the table during those years. There was notably less napping required afterwards too.

                  And for those who would say that there's nothing traditional about paella, I'd remind them that nothing says New England like lobster!

                  1. re: clepro
                    lgss Sep 23, 2009 06:45 PM

                    We're long-time vegans (18+ and 30+ yrs), so no turkey or turkey substitute for us. We have had several Thanksgivings with both vegans (6-7) and non-vegans (14-20) family members including one with celiac (must avoid wheat, oats, barley, rye, and spelt), one with galactosemia (must avoid all dairy products and a few other ingredients), and several with severe food allergies (dairy, peanuts, shellfish). The carnivores always want to try what the vegans make/bring and generally ask for the recipes. We put the vegan items on one counter and the non-vegan items on a table or different counter so it's easy to know which are which.

                    1. re: lgss
                      Veggo Sep 23, 2009 07:57 PM

                      Talk about threading tofu through the eye of the camel!
                      (just needleing you:))

                      1. re: lgss
                        cheesecake17 Sep 24, 2009 02:09 PM

                        Sounds like fun... trying out all the new items and getting the recipes. What are some vegan entrees? Always looking for new ideas...

                        1. re: cheesecake17
                          lgss Sep 27, 2009 06:35 PM

                          We always make savory pumpkin pie(s) as the main dish. We generally only make it a couple times a year, so it is a treat. My sister and her husband are vegan and own/run a CSA so they bring produce they've grown...potatoes, onions, greens, sweet potatoes, squash, etc. We try to coordinate with them, offering to do most of the cooking/baking since they provide many of the ingredients. My husband is part Native American (we joke that "vegan" is a generic Native American term which translates "lousy hunter") so we try to include some Native American inspired dishes.

                      2. re: clepro
                        The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 08:27 PM

                        Sounds delicious! I'll come to YOUR place for Thanksgiving, then. I can even bring green chile turkey stew if you wish. :) And the Cowboys and the Lions will play, whether the TV is on or not.


            2. re: Soop
              Davwud Sep 23, 2009 04:33 AM

              Roast turkey is non negotiable. Now, we have roasted here in Canada and at the in laws we have a smoked turkey. Close to the same. A deep fried turkey is still allowed. Basically it's about cooking a whole bird.
              That said, if it's just you and a GF you could easily opt for a roast turkey breast. That should make a good sized meal and some but not a lot of leftovers. I've even bought a whole frozen bird and had it cut in half. Did one at TG and the other at Christmas.

              Thanksgiving here with my family is a dinner meal. With the in laws it's a late, very large lunch. I much prefer how the Americans do it. Big late lunch, veg out in front of the TV for the rest of the day watching football and picking at leftovers when the mood strikes.

              I usually make either turkey stew or turkey and dumplin's the next day with leftovers and use the carcass to make a stock to use in it.

              Neither side are big on the leftover turkey sandwich unless it's a "Hot Turkey Sandwich."


              1. re: Davwud
                Soop Sep 23, 2009 04:40 AM

                I can't stand too much leftovers. I'm quite capricious, to the point that I tend to go shopping a bit every day for stuff I want, rather than guess what I'll want the entire week. Drives my GF nuts.

                What time will the football be on? Might be too late for me (usually is).

                1. re: Soop
                  Davwud Sep 23, 2009 04:48 AM

                  It would come on some time around the dinner hour over there. ( I notice you're in England) I have no idea if you get them or not but I suppose if you get the big US carriers, you'll get them. There's two games back to back in the NFL and then at night in the US there's always a big rivalry college game.


                  1. re: Davwud
                    Soop Sep 23, 2009 04:55 AM

                    I have cable, but I don't think sport is included. I could ask the landlord at my local I suppose.

                    1. re: Soop
                      The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 05:04 AM

                      Thanksgiving Classic, all you ever wanted to know and more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving_Classic

                      If you're on the West coast, you can watch Detroit while gearing up for the big meal. At my house here in the midwest, you have your meal, then plant everyone in front of the TV to watch Dallas while you pack away the leftovers and clean the kitchen.

                      Roasted turkey breast recipes for you (if you want to scale back): http://www.williams-sonoma.com/srch/r...


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                        Soop Sep 23, 2009 05:08 AM

                        Did you find your ice cream recipe yet? You've probably seen this, but http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/40...

                        1. re: Soop
                          The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 05:14 AM

                          Funny, I hadn't seen that one! I shall have to try it, thank you!


                  2. re: Soop
                    alanbarnes Sep 23, 2009 07:53 AM

                    The Detroit game always starts at 12:30 pm EST (1730 GMT), so it's just about right for post-prandial immobility in England. The Dallas game is afterward, which should be irrelevant to you; if the dinner is done properly, the turkey will have induced a tryptophan coma by then.

                2. re: Soop
                  alanbarnes Sep 23, 2009 09:04 AM

                  >>"It will only be me and my girlfriend."<<

                  It's hard to do a traditional T-day feast for two. It's more than just dinner, it's a celebration. The nature of the traditional foods - whole turkey, whole pies, lots of side dishes - speak of feeding a crowd. And historically it is a communal meal.

                  The Thanksgiving dinners I've participated in have always included anybody who can make it to the table. Family, friends, acquaintances, and strays - everybody is welcome, and the more the merrier.

                  Others may have a different take on things, but for me, a turkey dinner with immediate family only is just a turkey dinner, no matter what day of the year it's served. It may be a far cry from what you had in mind, but if you really want to do American-style Thanksgiving up right, consider dragging all your friends and family together and feeding them until they're ready to burst.

                  1. re: alanbarnes
                    MMRuth Sep 23, 2009 09:05 AM

                    I agree that a communal Thanksgiving is perhaps ideal, but when my husband and I had our Thanksgiving for two last year, it sure felt like Thanksgiving, we were thankful, and had a wonderful meal.

                    1. re: alanbarnes
                      Soop Sep 23, 2009 09:07 AM

                      Good move AB. Good move. I have a lot of friends who cook too, so I could maybe get them involved. Actually... hmmm maybe it's not such a good idea thinking about it...

                      Yeah and to be honest I can't really be bothered with my family. Don't really see them that much.

                      1. re: Soop
                        Nyleve Sep 23, 2009 09:10 AM

                        We never have family. Heck, we have to see them during other holidays so why ruin a good dinner? It's friends - and good ones. Much more fun that way.

                  2. re: The Dairy Queen
                    clepro Sep 23, 2009 11:47 AM

                    Actually, corn in various states is very much a part of Thanksgiving dinners in the northeast and New England states, and in the south in the form of cornbread in the stuffing. As is squash, creamed onions, mincemeat pie, mashed turnips, and apple cider. And I think every region of the States puts out a relish tray, no?

                    I've a friend from around Chesapeake Bay who says Thanksgiving for those growing up in her area always, always included sauerkraut.

                    1. re: clepro
                      Janet from Richmond Sep 23, 2009 11:51 AM

                      I think the sauerkraut is a Maryland thing. I never heard of it until I went to college. I don't know how regional it is, but oyster dressing is very common here in Virginia. We have oyster stew instead because my brother makes the best oystew stew we've ever had.

                      1. re: clepro
                        The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 11:52 AM

                        Corn on the cob is in season somewhere in November? I think I shall move there next!


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                          clepro Sep 23, 2009 11:56 AM

                          No, not corn on the cob. Corn off the cob, creamed, steamed, in cornbread, succotash, Indian pudding... hominey even.

                          1. re: clepro
                            The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 12:02 PM

                            Yeah, that doesn't surprise me, corn as ingredient in various dishes. That makes more sense.


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                              Soop Sep 24, 2009 01:48 AM

                              I'd like to try corn bread. I've only seen it in films.

                              1. re: Soop
                                The Dairy Queen Sep 24, 2009 03:02 AM

                                Oh, you should try it! It's awesome! I'll bet that either of the two current cookbooks of the month right now would have good cornbread recipes (several each, probably). http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/648986

                                It's best known as a Southern dish, but people eat it everywhere. You do have to get a good recipe, though, otherwise it can be kind of dry (not that that's ever stopped me from eating it!



                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                  Soop Sep 24, 2009 03:25 AM

                                  Does it use masa? Cornmeal I think we call it, but cornflour here is a different thing. I think I remember something about buttermilk too...

                                  1. re: Soop
                                    lgss Sep 24, 2009 03:43 AM

                                    We use polenta...and add chipotle peppers!

                                    1. re: lgss
                                      The Dairy Queen Sep 24, 2009 04:16 AM

                                      lgss, No wonder the carnivores want your recipes! I know chipotle is "out", but I love it in everything.

                                      Soop, Use corn meal (or polenta). Masa is similar, but is treated (with lye?), so, not the same. I think what you call corn meal in the UK might be corn starch here which is totally different. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Whats_the_difference_between_corn_meal_and_corn_flour

                                      Here are two Virginia Willis recipes: one for cornbread, another for cornbread stuffing. (I haven't tried them), but there are a million variations.



                                      Here's an Edna Lewis recipe:


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                        Soop Sep 24, 2009 04:50 AM

                                        Thanks DQ :)

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                          Paulustrious Sep 25, 2009 11:33 AM

                                          << I think what you call corn meal in the UK might be corn starch here which is totally different.>>

                                          UK cornflour = US cornstarch

                          2. re: clepro
                            cgj Sep 24, 2009 08:29 AM

                            No, I don't think New England necessarily has a relish tray (sepaking as a native). Mind you, it's sounds like a great idea, and I love them, but I do not automatically associate them with Thanksgiving .

                            1. re: cgj
                              BarmyFotheringayPhipps Sep 24, 2009 12:58 PM

                              I dunno, my Providence-born, Watertown MA-raised mother-in-law often put out a relish tray (featuring, among other goodies, almond-stuffed dates) a few hours before the meal.

                              Is the timing of the meal a regional thing or a family thing? My family always had the meal as a sort of earlyish dinner -- around five p.m. or so -- but my wife's family tradition shoots for between 2 and 3.

                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                The Dairy Queen Sep 24, 2009 01:47 PM

                                I think the timing of the meal is a family thing.


                        2. MMRuth Sep 23, 2009 05:06 AM

                          I usually roast a chicken when it's just the two of us, though this year I may do two chickens, since I haven't cooked a turkey since I was in university. Other things on the menu:

                          Cranberry relish (I add candied ginger and toasted almonds to mine), I don't know if you are able to find fresh cranberries in the U.K., but I know that I've seen the canned jellied kind in London. There is a lot of controversy over the use of this product, but I actually like both this kind and a fresh relish.
                          Gravy - very important
                          Mashed potatoes
                          Stuffing/Dressing - I just bake it in the oven, which makes it dressing, I believe. Last year I made one with oysters, and it was delicious.
                          Peas and pearl onions
                          I detest pumpkin pie, as does my husband, so I make a tarte tatin, or sometimes and apple pie. Pecan pie is also a favorite in some parts of the country. I love mince meat pie, and while we usually have that at Christmas, sometimes I make mince tarts at Thanksgiving as well, with hard sauce. Last year it was just two of us, so I made apple tarts.
                          Sweet potatoes are also very traditional, but I don't like them so I don't make them.

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: MMRuth
                            Soop Sep 23, 2009 05:22 AM

                            Ah, thanks Ruth! How did you make stuffing with oysters?!
                            And for the record, I cannot stand sweet with savory, so no cranberry for me (unless it's dessert!)

                            1. re: Soop
                              MMRuth Sep 23, 2009 05:45 AM

                              The link to the oyster dressing is in this post:


                              And there are pictures of it in the post above it - and of the whole meal, for that matter.

                              1. re: MMRuth
                                Veggo Sep 23, 2009 07:15 AM

                                I just read the recipe for oyster stuffing (dressing?). 40 oysters! Gee, it's more like an oyster casserole that you could make anytime. Looks delicious, much fancier that mine, which I do "stuff" into the bird. I haven't used bacon, but I always add roasted chestnuts and lots of sage. The oysters are a strong flavor; a few go a long way. Thanks, M.

                            2. re: MMRuth
                              Harters Sep 23, 2009 06:13 AM

                              "I don't know if you are able to find fresh cranberries in the U.K"

                              Yes, we can. But not usually till Christmas. Although cranberry sauce in jars has probably been around since turkey became the most popular Christmas meat, it's only in the last few years that fresh berries have been available. They were made popular in the mid 1990s when Delia Smith (by far our best known and most successful cookery writer) seemed to us them in just about everything in her "Winter Collection" book. As often when St Delia mentions something, demand rockets. And I mean ROCKETS!

                              Like Soop, I don't particularly like the sauce (but use a particular make of jarred sauce as a basis to develop a sauce for duck - based on our Cumberland Sauce).

                              Fresh berries appear in two Christmas "standards" at Chateau Harters. Firstly, I stud them into a coarse country terrine (goes really well with the fatty pork). And, second, I put them into slow cooked red cabbage (as a festive change from the more usual apple).

                              1. re: Harters
                                MMRuth Sep 23, 2009 06:18 AM

                                The fresh cranberries here start appearing, not surprisingly, before Thanksgiving and tend to not be found much after Christmas, so I buy some extra and freeze them, as they freeze very well. By the way, in my increasingly vast collection of British cookbooks and books about British food or by British authors, I have still to add anything by Delia Smith. Any suggestions on which one to buy were I only to buy one? I'm perusing Philp Hardsen's Encyclopaedia right now, which is quite amusing - I hadn't realized that he was the host of the first televised cooking show anywhere.

                                1. re: MMRuth
                                  Soop Sep 23, 2009 06:49 AM

                                  Hmm. Deliah is very old fashioned - think of it as more like a home-economics manual rather than a cook book.

                                  You'll find stuff like how to boil an egg, how to roast a chicken perfectly, but she's not really one for new ideas. Also, in recent years, she's developed a trend of "the cheating way to do things" like instant mash.

                                  I'd probably give her a miss if you're anything more than competent (which you clearly are).

                                  1. re: Soop
                                    MMRuth Sep 23, 2009 07:59 AM

                                    I actually am interested in the 'history' so to speak of cooking in the U.K., and since it seems as if she is so iconic, I thought I should at least look at some of her books.

                                    1. re: MMRuth
                                      Soop Sep 23, 2009 08:17 AM

                                      In that case you'd find them interesting. I assume you've heard of Keith Floyd?

                                      1. re: Soop
                                        MMRuth Sep 23, 2009 08:41 AM

                                        No, I've not heard of Keith Floyd.

                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                          Harters Sep 23, 2009 02:27 PM

                                          Floyd - recently deceased. TV chef; failed restaurateur (several times). Better known for his on-screen drinking than his cooking (which was sometimes bloody good and sometimes bloody awful). I sort of met him twice (both times in bars, unsurprisngly) - when I say "met", I mean enough of met to say "Hi Keith" but not enough for him to be bothered to reply (which was tad annoying as one of the bars was his own pub)

                                      2. re: MMRuth
                                        Harters Sep 23, 2009 08:26 AM


                                        As you say, Delia is iconic. Her name appears in dictionaries as in the phrase "it's one of Delia's" or "to do a Delia". For more than 30 years, she's taught folk how to cook. Her recipes - good proper standard Friday night dinners (if you see what I mean) - always work. No, they're not cutting edge but there are so many dishes that I cook that I can trace back to "a Delia".

                                        As to a book for your collection, the iconic one is "Complete Cookery Course". She did do earlier ones but this book and the accompanying BBC TV series is the one that made her fame and very considerable fortune. Book was first published in 1978 (we're on our third copy) . It's her basic recipe I use for the terrine I mention earlier. You'll find classic Brit dishes (given a Delia update of course) - faggots & mushy peas; baked mackerel, Lancashire Hotpot (although she includes lambs' kidneys, we northerners stick to the traditional). You'll find many "foreign" dishes that we were discovering on holidays abroad. And throughout, there's the basic recipes - sauces, pickels, baking and so on. If I could only keep one cookbook, this would be it (but, please can I keep two and hang on to Slater's Real Fast Food.


                                        1. re: Harters
                                          Soop Sep 23, 2009 08:28 AM

                                          I defer to Harters superior knowledge. I've always seen her as reliable if unexciting.

                                          1. re: Soop
                                            Harters Sep 23, 2009 08:34 AM

                                            Reliable but unexciting is spot on for accuracy.

                                  2. re: Harters
                                    clepro Sep 23, 2009 11:20 AM

                                    Both sound like excellent uses for fresh cranberries. I've also included them in pureed squash. I bake the squash, mash it with a little butter, ginger and red wine, then put it in a doubleboiler, add the cranberries, and heat until the cranberries pop.

                                  3. re: MMRuth
                                    JungMann Sep 23, 2009 06:47 AM

                                    Your relish reminds me of the little Asian-American tweaks we give to our Thanksgiving dinner:
                                    Ginger-sambal cranberry relish
                                    Green beans and eggplant in miso and red curry
                                    For years we also made a rice stuffing, but now we just serve plain rice alongside the potatoes and dressing which only the younger kids eat anyway. We also had soy-marinated cornish hens or tandoori chicken take centerstage because no one knew how to make/eat a turkey until I came along and did it myself.

                                  4. h
                                    Harters Sep 23, 2009 06:01 AM

                                    Well, you learn something every day. I never knew Canadians "did" Thanksgiving. How does their celebration differ from the, perhaps, better known (internationally) American one? Is it a day you've imported from the States or is it a home grown event?

                                    24 Replies
                                    1. re: Harters
                                      Davwud Sep 23, 2009 06:41 AM

                                      Well first of all, how is the American version "Better known" internationally??

                                      Secondly, what makes you think the US didn't "import" it from Canada??

                                      The bottom line is, by almost all accounts that I've read about, Thanksgiving wasn't really a "I have an idea" and then one country copied the other thing. It more evolved to what we have today. Harvest celebrations were common all throughout the North American continent long before the white man even came. The first "Thought of" Thanksgivngs far predate the US and Canada so to say it was invented by one country and stolen/adopted by the other is incorrect. It has become a harvest celebration although what we now know as Thanksgiving started out as a religious holiday.

                                      At it's root, the two Thanksgivings are identical. Much like the two Christmases are identical. There are regional and even slight cultural difference and in the case of Thanksgiving, the date is different. Since Canada's harvest would be earlier in general. Both revolve around a feast of turkey, potatoes and other seasonal items shared with the family.
                                      Perhaps the biggest difference is, in the US, THE holiday is Thanksgiving where as in Canada it's Christmas. By this I mean, the one time a year that the whole family absolutely gets together.

                                      I celebrate both Canadian and American as I am married to a southerner. I much prefer the subtle differences of US Thanksgiving but prefer Christmas up here.


                                      1. re: Davwud
                                        Soop Sep 23, 2009 06:54 AM

                                        I'd love to spend Christmas in Canada T___T
                                        Snow, and some of the nicest people on earth. I'm generalising sure, but it's the way I feel. I used to dream about living in my own custom built house on the edge of a lake somewhere, surrounded by pine trees and mountains.

                                        1. re: Davwud
                                          MMRuth Sep 23, 2009 06:59 AM

                                          I've lived in both Canada and the U.S., as well as overseas for many years, and I'm sure that many more non-U.S. residents/non-Canadians know about American Thanksgiving than know about Canadian Thanksgiving. I'm sure that goes for my many Dominican in-laws as well. I recall that when I lived in Germany we used to go to the Intercontinental Hotel in London at 'American' Thanksgiving, because they served a Thanksgiving meal. They didn't do that for Canadian Thanksgiving.

                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                            Soop Sep 23, 2009 07:13 AM

                                            It's probably in part due to hollywood (and the seasonal blockbusters) and TV, then exacerbated by the Internet in recent years.

                                          2. re: Davwud
                                            Nyleve Sep 23, 2009 07:22 AM

                                            I was born and grew up in the US, but have been living in Canada for over 30 years. As soon as I found out about Canadian Thanksgiving, I went for it whole hog. The timing makes so much more sense - it really IS harvest season, you can actually do stuff outdoors because the weather may even be nice and warm, and it doesn't run straight into Christmas. We celebrate it with a psychotically ritualized meal, the menu of which has not changed for over 20 years. Once I attempted to switch the side dish from baked squash to sweet potato gratin and there was an uprising at the table. There is always a short, pathetic football game on the lawn before dinner.

                                            1. re: Davwud
                                              alanbarnes Sep 23, 2009 09:20 AM

                                              Sorry, but the history of the Thanksgiving holiday is pretty clear. While harvest festivals are common worldwide, and while there have been occasional designated days of thanksgiving throughout history, the notion of a broadly-celebrated annual feast on a designated Thanksgiving Day in autumn originated in New England in the mid to late 1600s.

                                              That tradition did not appear in Canada until around 1800. It was brought north by loyalists who chose to leave the newly independent United States so that they could continue to live in British territory.

                                              1. re: alanbarnes
                                                buttertart Sep 23, 2009 10:08 AM

                                                Since harvest festivals were common and Thanksgiving wasn't any more codified in the States than in Canada at the time of the United Empire Loyalists after the War of 1812, I don't think it can be said to be a tradition imported by them to Canada. After all, it only became an official US holiday under FDR. Separate traditions developing in parallel over time. I enjoy the holiday in both places - must say the Canadian version (at least in my family - my mother always commented about what a huge fuss the Americans made of Thanksgiving) is rather more low-key than the US one, even though the meal is pretty much the same - and the timing still seems more appropriate to me because it falls at harvesttime, not after it as does the US one. We celebrate both.

                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                  alanbarnes Sep 23, 2009 10:36 AM

                                                  Actually, it was Abraham Lincoln who established the last Thursday in November as an annual day of Thanksgiving in the US. FDR tried to move it up a week to stimulate retail sales, and Congress split the difference, setting the date as the fourth Thursday of the month, where it's stayed ever since.

                                                  But just because Thanksgiving wasn't an official **national** holiday in the US until 1863 doesn't mean it wasn't an official holiday. In fact, it would have been impossible for it to be a national holiday when it was first formalized, since the US was not a nation and had no national government. But it was celebrated in Connecticut by proclamation of the governor in 1647 and every year thereafter (except 1675), and Massachusetts Bay Colony followed suit and established Thanksgiving Day as an annual holiday in 1680, long before it was an official holiday anywhere in Canada.

                                                  1. re: alanbarnes
                                                    buttertart Sep 23, 2009 10:44 AM

                                                    I bow to your superior knowledge of Thanksgivingology. I still don't think it was a UEL import to Canada.

                                                    1. re: alanbarnes
                                                      Nyleve Sep 23, 2009 01:20 PM

                                                      According to Wikipedia - authority on all things

                                                      The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. Frobisher's Thanksgiving was not for harvest but homecoming. He had safely returned from a search for the Northwest Passage, avoiding the later fate of Henry Hudson and Sir John Franklin. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. The feast was one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in North America, although celebrating the harvest and giving thanks for a successful bounty of crops had been a long-standing tradition throughout North America by various First Nations and Native American groups. First Nations and Native Americans throughout the Americas, including the Pueblo, Cherokee, Cree and many others organized harvest festivals, ceremonial dances, and other celebrations of thanks for centuries before the arrival of Europeans in North America .

                                                      1. re: Nyleve
                                                        alanbarnes Sep 23, 2009 01:40 PM

                                                        Wikipedia is actually a pretty good source of information when the facts are fairly well established. The article is correct in noting that Frobisher declared a day of thanksgiving in 1578 in what is now Canada.

                                                        It wasn't the first such declaration in the Americas - a group of Spanish settlers had a thanksgiving mass and feast upon their arrival in Florida in September 1555. Like I said above, harvest festivals are common worldwide, and there have been occasional designated days of thanksgiving throughout history.

                                                        But neither an informal celebration of the harvest nor the occasional declaration of a day of thanksgiving (for a successful harvest, the conclusion of a war, the birth of an heir to the throne, or whatever) is the same as having an officially-recognized annual Thanksgiving Day holiday. The annual holiday dates back to Connecticut in 1647.

                                                  2. re: alanbarnes
                                                    Davwud Sep 23, 2009 03:20 PM

                                                    Actually Alan. If you do any kind of digging, you'll find that the history of the Thanksgiving is anything but clear. The pilgrim feast the the US has decided IS the first TG was held in 1621. According to a Canadian site, the first Canadian TG was held by Martin Frobisher in what is now Newfoundland in 1578. An account which I have read refuted by.... an American. That brings us to the origins in Canada as being "Borrowed" from the US in the 1880's in Ontario but further digging proves that to be wrong.

                                                    One thing is pretty clear. So long as you don't refer to religious accounts, the first thanksgiving meals/feasts were occurring in NA long before Columbus, Frobisher or the Pilgrims ever set foot in the new world. It would seem that settlers just sorta joined in the party as it were.

                                                    I supposed if it makes you feel better, TG as we know it now was set down on paper by Lincoln. Not so fast. Lincoln opted for the last Thursday in November. We now celebrate it on the 4th Thursday in November. FDR officially changed it to the 4th in 1939. In 1933 the last Thursday was the 30th. Most Americans do their Christmas shopping after TG. This meant 1 less week to shop. In 1939 a similar fate would occur and FDR moved it ahead 1 week to allow for an extra week of shopping. An important move during the depression.
                                                    As well national day of thanks giving to god was established on the first Thursday in November by Washington and his church in 1789. This celebration seems to have only been a state sponsored event though.


                                                    1. re: Davwud
                                                      alanbarnes Sep 23, 2009 04:31 PM

                                                      Actually DT, if you do any kind of digging...

                                                      Oh, wait, you don't have to dig. Just read my posts above you'll find that they already contain all the information you are suggesting I missed. The facts as evidenced by the historical documents are entirely clear. What's fuzzy is the definition of "Thanksgiving."

                                                      It's beyond dispute that an official day of thanksgiving was celebrated in what is now Canada in 1578. Just like it's beyond dispute that similar celebrations happened in what's now Florida in 1555, Texas in 1598, and Virginia in 1619, all before the "First Thanksgiving" celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621. And of course there were plenty of harvest celebrations before then.

                                                      But unless you count the third-graders who are getting ready to put on a school play in a few weeks, no one seriously believes that any of these events - including the Pilgrim / Indian soiree in Plymouth - were really the "First Thanksgiving." There were plenty of thanksgiving feasts that came before, and the first annual, officially-declared Thanksgiving holiday didn't start until 1647. And for more than a century, that annual, officially-declared holiday was limited to what is now the United States.

                                                      1. re: alanbarnes
                                                        Davwud Sep 23, 2009 06:01 PM

                                                        Well first of all, while I was doing some reading, our posts crossed.

                                                        Secondly, a google of "Thanksgiving +1647" hardly turns up anything substantial.

                                                        Secondly, I will agree that trying to determine when Thanksgiving started is kinda like trying to determine when man first walked on planet earth.

                                                        Thirdly, I fully maintain that any and all thanksgiving feast, ceremonies, rites, celebrations, dinners, dates or commerances that don't cite the natives that inhabited NA long before our ancestors ever got here are just plain wrong. I asked Mrs. Sippi for her feelings and she agreed. It's a celebration that we adopted. If you can't understand that, that's fine. We agree to disagree.

                                                        Other than that Al, good talkin' to ya and I do enjoy your posts. Happy early Canadian and American Thanksgiving.... ;-



                                                        1. re: Davwud
                                                          alanbarnes Sep 23, 2009 06:22 PM

                                                          Eh, not to worry about it.

                                                          It's the definition that's a bear. Once you get it precise enough to mean anything, you end up with an original event nobody's ever heard of. But as with many traditions, even though the first occurrence was probably uneventful, it at least provides a milestone.

                                                          As far as our ancestors go, mine were responsible for removing mammoths from the local fauna, so I'm well aware of harvest festival traditions that predate the arrival of Europeans. But those traditions aren't unique to American Indians - it's a fair bet that every agricultural society has celebrated that time of plenty. The Mesopotamians and the Egyptians definitely left records of it.

                                                          Come to think of it, maybe that's why 1621 gets so much press - two very different cultures found a holiday they shared and celebrated it together. Too bad they had to spend the next couple of centuries trying to wipe each other out.

                                                          1. re: alanbarnes
                                                            Davwud Sep 23, 2009 06:36 PM

                                                            Well for better or for worse, Americans do a great job of self promotion. The 1621 story is great and easy. When you factor in the praying aspect, you get the church involved who will do their best to perpetuate the story as well.

                                                            Three years ago, the provincial parlaiment decided that we needed a holiday in February. So we got one. A long weekend in February. As the very first one occurred on my birthday, I took to naming it after myself. But I digress. Mrs. Sippi has taken to calling it a "Made up holiday" as they just decided to have a holiday. In a greater picture, all holidays are "Made up." At some point in time all holidays were made up. Either arbitrarily or an almalgum of similar holidays. My attitude towards both traditional and neo holidays is, screw it. I have the day off. If I can feast, so much the better.

                                                            Cheers mate.


                                                            1. re: Davwud
                                                              buttertart Sep 24, 2009 04:04 PM

                                                              Which province? Did they name it Heritage Day as I remmeber there was a move toward several years ago? Gotta love a country that assures its populace a three-day weekend in most if not all months.

                                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                                Davwud Sep 24, 2009 04:27 PM

                                                                February. It's called "Family Day."



                                                            2. re: alanbarnes
                                                              Fritter Sep 24, 2009 02:49 AM

                                                              I only have one question;
                                                              White or dark meat?

                                                              1. re: Fritter
                                                                Soop Sep 24, 2009 03:24 AM

                                                                Dark for me (if I may be so bold). In the UK at least, white meat is seen as "the best bit" which I have never, ever understood. at least there's always a leg for me :)

                                                                1. re: Soop
                                                                  Davwud Sep 24, 2009 04:17 AM

                                                                  Thigh for me. The most under rated piece of meat on the bird.


                                                                  1. re: Davwud
                                                                    Soop Sep 24, 2009 04:51 AM

                                                                    When possible, I enjoy eating like a viking

                                                                    1. re: Soop
                                                                      Davwud Sep 24, 2009 05:46 AM

                                                                      it's a good thing aint it??


                                                  3. re: Harters
                                                    lgss Sep 23, 2009 06:35 PM

                                                    Interestingly, Canadian Thanksgiving and (US) Columbus Day fall on the same day. To some Native Americans Columbus Day is "Invasion" Day...

                                                  4. cassoulady Sep 23, 2009 06:49 AM

                                                    I always also make roasted brussel sprouts on thanksgiving (not traditional but always a hit) and depending on how many guests, popovers.

                                                    10 Replies
                                                    1. re: cassoulady
                                                      The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 07:15 AM

                                                      Some of the Williams Sonomas menus I linked included recipes for brussels sprouts and popovers. You are not alone!

                                                      I think brussels sprouts are a great idea --perfectly seasonal, though, you do need to free up the oven, I suppose to roast them. I've always liked green beans because you can stir fry them stove top. How do you time your meal? Or are you one of those lucky sorts with two ovens?


                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                        BarmyFotheringayPhipps Sep 23, 2009 11:22 AM

                                                        Two options: parcook them and roast them when the turkey comes out of the oven (between standing and carving time, you still have at least an hour between the time the turkey comes out and the time dinner is served), or cook them before the bird and reheat them in foil after.

                                                        The traditional menu at ours:

                                                        Roast turkey
                                                        Stuffing and dressing (Allstonian demands bird juice and I demand the crunchy top that dressing gets: it's the same combination of cornbread, bread cubes, sausage, fruit, nuts, sage, etc. for both, it's just divided and cooked two different ways.)
                                                        Mashed potatoes
                                                        Baked sweet potatoes
                                                        Roasted sprouts
                                                        Some other vegetable, depending on what strikes our fancy that year
                                                        Cranberry sauce (from a recipe our friend Jon reads over the air on his radio show the Friday before Thanksgiving every year)
                                                        Buttermilk pie
                                                        Pumpkin or sweet potato pie (alternating)
                                                        Pecan pie

                                                        Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday -- indeed, Thanksgiving week is my favorite week of the entire year.

                                                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                          The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 11:41 AM

                                                          Tell me more about buttermilk pie. I've never heard of it.

                                                          Also, over the air on his radio show? Do you have a link? That sounds so neat!


                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                            BarmyFotheringayPhipps Sep 23, 2009 12:00 PM

                                                            Buttermilk pie is a southern thing (though I live in Boston now, I'm Texan by birth): buttermilk, eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon juice and nutmeg. Done properly, it's quite dense and rich, roughly the consistency of a pecan pie filling, though obviously very different in terms of flavor and texture.

                                                            I don't have a link that goes directly to the recipe, no. The show is Breakfast of Champions, the morning indie rock show on WMBR, MIT's college station, 8-10 a.m. ET every weekday. (www.wmbr.org/boc) CH trivia note: Joanie, a regular on the Boston boards, is one of the hosts of Late Risers Club, the punk and metal show that follows BoC every day.

                                                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                              The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 12:06 PM

                                                              Oh how fun! (About the radio show).

                                                              So, is buttermilk pie somewhat reminiscent of cheesecake, then, but pie'ish and with nutmeg? It sounds intriguing!


                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                BarmyFotheringayPhipps Sep 23, 2009 12:39 PM

                                                                I guess maybe vaguely reminiscent of cheesecake, but it's really its own thing.

                                                                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                  The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 12:49 PM

                                                                  Hmmm...here they call it a cousin of creme brulee. I can't believe I've never heard of this! http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

                                                                  I think I shall have to try this! It sounds really delicious!


                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                    Veggo Sep 23, 2009 01:07 PM

                                                                    Brings back nice Texas memories of home cookin', but not mine. Buttermilk pie is firmer than creme brulee, not as thick as cheesecake and less airy, and of course it's in a pie crust. The vanilla and nutmeg flavors are the most pronounced, but pretty sweet overall.

                                                                    1. re: Veggo
                                                                      The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 01:15 PM

                                                                      I've had sour cream pie before, but it was vile because it has raisins in it (one of the few foods I cannot abide.) I wonder if these two pies are cousins? It doesn't matter, though, because I'm hooked on wanting to try the buttermilk one!


                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                        BarmyFotheringayPhipps Sep 23, 2009 01:36 PM

                                                                        Just posted the recipe on the Home Cooking board.

                                                    2. ChrisOC Sep 23, 2009 07:48 AM

                                                      For me, no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without a big bowl of creamed onions.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: ChrisOC
                                                        Janet from Richmond Sep 23, 2009 08:25 AM

                                                        OTOH I am amazed anyone wants to have Thanksgiving dinner if they don't have to ;-)

                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                          pacheeseguy Sep 23, 2009 08:34 AM

                                                          Succotash is a nice side instead of just plain corn.
                                                          Then's there's the infamous green bean casserole.
                                                          And we always do both in bird stuffing,
                                                          and dressing as well in a separate pan.
                                                          And I like a little cold mayo on the side for my turkey.
                                                          Red wine, don't forget the red wine, so you can sleep during the game.

                                                          1. re: pacheeseguy
                                                            Fritter Sep 24, 2009 02:54 AM

                                                            "Succotash is a nice side instead of just plain corn."

                                                            Indeed. How can you have Thanksgiving with out succotash? Next to the turkey and a few unruly natives mixed in with some land grabbers that's about as traditional as it gets.

                                                          2. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                            Veggo Sep 23, 2009 09:50 AM

                                                            JfR, on this thread and another, you are definitely the Scrooge of Thanksgiving! (mods, don't go trigger happy, I'm good spirited about this). How about a cruise or foreign travel the week of Thanksgiving? I had a run of about 12 consecutive years out of the country at Thanksgiving, mostly diving trips in exotic locations, and have had some wonderful unconventional T'day meals, and no dishes to wash. But now I like the traditional again.

                                                            1. re: Veggo
                                                              Janet from Richmond Sep 23, 2009 11:04 AM

                                                              One reason. Husband. As big of a self-admitted Scrooge I am about Thanksgiving, it's my Husband's favorite day of the year. Pre-husband I had some unconventional T-givings or kept the meal small or ate out.

                                                              And I took your Scrooge comment in the spirit it was intended :-)

                                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                The Dairy Queen Sep 23, 2009 11:06 AM

                                                                Well, you wouldn't like November in our house! We usually have THREE Thanksgiving dinners with various combinations of people. You might approve the small (third) one my husband and I always have, just the two of us...


                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                  Janet from Richmond Sep 23, 2009 11:17 AM

                                                                  But I love Christmas dinner!! And Easter! And we entertain a lot :-)

                                                        2. Soop Sep 23, 2009 08:41 AM

                                                          One of my favoured uses for left over turkey (for xmas) is a stilton and turkey sandwich. A little dry though.

                                                          My girlfriends mom is very accomodating though, she insists on cooking whatever breakast people want. My girlfriends sisters boyfriend wanted a fry-up, I went for some delicious smoked salmon and a poached egg. Check me out for my high-falutin' airs.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Soop
                                                            Harters Sep 23, 2009 02:33 PM


                                                            Try mango chutney on your Xmas sandwich. Always works well with turkey and should act as a counterbalance with the creamy sharpness of the Stilton. Dried apricots would also work.


                                                            1. re: Harters
                                                              Soop Sep 24, 2009 01:58 AM

                                                              :D Sadly, I hate sweet and savory together, but thanks for the tip. I don't mind a dry sandwich too much.

                                                              1. re: Soop
                                                                Fritter Sep 24, 2009 02:59 AM

                                                                One of my favorites for left over turkey is a sandwich on toasted sourdough with mayo and cranberry sauce. I make my cranberries sauce with Grand Marnier and oranges. I do add sugar but I do not make my cranberry sauce sweet. I just want to offset the tartness.

                                                                1. re: Fritter
                                                                  Soop Sep 24, 2009 03:22 AM

                                                                  see, on pancakes, I could devour that!
                                                                  I'd probably use contreau if I could, as I like kamikazes, Grand Marnier is a bit of a wierd one.

                                                                  I imagine it's just pour everything in a pan and heat the berries till they burst?
                                                                  I do a similar thang with blueberries, and I did make them too sweet last time. I like tartness.

                                                          2. greygarious Sep 23, 2009 04:10 PM

                                                            Humorist and foodie writer Calvin Trillin maintains that his family's tradition of Spaghetti Carbonara, not turkey, for Thanksgiving, reflects the true history of the feast. Taking pity on the dour Puritan immigrants, the Indians invited the Pilgrims to their harvest shindig, and prepared a big platter of Spaghetti Carbonara. The party-pooping Pilgrims, eschewing earthly pleasures, pronounced the dish "heretically tasty". So when they departed, the Indians said, "Good riddance to those turkeys", thereby creating the misunderstanding that led to millions of meals of stringy, dry poultry. ;>D

                                                            1. Karl S Sep 23, 2009 05:18 PM

                                                              While roast turkey is non-negotiable, it's usually outclassed by the abundance of vegetable and starchy dishes. The stuffing/dressing is, for maaaaaany, the real star. Each region has its hallmark stuffings/dressings (southern versions, for example, often use cornbread - and the specifically southern type of cornbread - as the bread base).

                                                              Maize in many guises, as well as beans and squashes (maize, beans and squashes being the "three sisters" of Native American agriculture), feature prominently, with many regional specialities. Potatoes, sweet potatoes and peppers also are indigenous (so too are vanilla and chocolate, btw).

                                                              Probably the most sublime regional specialty for maize is spoonbread, a kind of savory pudding from Virginia and environs. The recipe versions where egg yolks and egg whites are beaten separately are particularly sublime.

                                                              And, another southern specialty is sweet potato pie, which to my Yankee tastebuds is indeed superior to the pumpkin and squash pies found elsewhere. Still, the old New England Thanksgiving ideal of a board groaning with many different types of pie is appealing when you have a crowd.

                                                              Too bad you cannot stand cranberries in savory uses. Their extraordinary tartness has many useful savory purposes.

                                                              1. l
                                                                lgss Sep 23, 2009 06:31 PM

                                                                We make a savory pumpkin pie as main dish. "Three sisters" (corn, beans, and squash) is a reference to crops/foods commonly grown and eaten among by Native Americans. Wild rice, cranberries, and nuts are also great Thanksgiving foods with Native American connections. Don't know which of these you'll be able to find.

                                                                1. l
                                                                  lemons Sep 23, 2009 07:50 PM

                                                                  For years my grandmother did a capon for her holiday bird because she didn't want copious leftovers and there would only be 4 adults and me at her table. And the arguments about what "goes with" are, as you can see, endless. Most folks want mashed potatoes as well as the dressing/stuffing and the sweet potatoes/yams. My mother said "Too much starch!" and nixed the mashers.

                                                                  So cook whatever you feel like doing, find a picture or a little statue of a turkey or a horn of plenty and put it on the table and call it Thanksgiving. (But the more, the merrier is always true.)

                                                                  1. hannaone Sep 24, 2009 05:18 PM

                                                                    Being in an enthnically mixed family we celebrate two Thanksgivings per year. The first is Chuseok (추석 - Chusok, Ch'usok, Chu'seok) which falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Korean (Same as Chinese Calendar) Lunisolar Calendar (this year October 3rd). Foods we enjoy over the three days of Chuseok are songpyeon (송편 a crescent-shaped rice cake traditionally steamed on pine needles), new harvest rice, torantang (beef and taro root soup), japchae, bulgogi, and fresh fruits.
                                                                    For the American Thanksgiving we usually do not serve turkey, instead rotating ham, prime roast, and stuffed/baked cornish game hens, accompanied by mashed or baked potatos, candied sweet potatos, corn on the cob, cornbread, dressing, and of course kimchi (both cabbage and cucumber).

                                                                    1. Paulustrious Sep 25, 2009 11:56 AM

                                                                      A someone else said - Thanksgiving here is almost the same as a UK Xmas dinner. It is a national holiday and traditionally people get together. Xmas in the US and Canada is not as big a day. Many Christian cultures here gather on Xmas eve. A traditional Italian meal may well be all fish. A turkey is relatively rare on Xmas day compared to the UK.

                                                                      It is very much a gathering of the clans, and for some that includes friends. People will travel from end one of the country to another to be 'home' for thanksgiving. Having the meal on your own is like having Xmas dinner on your own. It misses the point.

                                                                      Most of the traditional 'facts' about the first thanksgiving are almost wholly false.

                                                                      The 'traditional' meal used to be a harvest festival meal with local produce. That's one of the reasons Canada's TG is earlier. Parts of Canada are frozen solid in November. The local produce thing has now changed and most people have a much more fixed menu. The veg provides the most variation.

                                                                      It's the new traditional.

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