Food news roundup: Thanksgiving edition

From White Castle-hamburger stuffing to Obama's turkey pardon -- the week's best holiday food coverage

Published November 25, 2009 4:26PM (EST)

In this new Wednesday feature, we’ll be rounding up the biggest, most interesting, or most bizarre news in the week’s dining sections -- culled from the country’s newspapers and from our favorite food sites. Today, as we all gear up for Turkey Day, we’re putting special focus on Thanksgiving coverage:

  • This morning, the Boston Globe's Devra First wrote about the experience of deep-frying her first turkey (inspired by celebrity chefs', including flying-ham victim Paula Deen's, pro-deep-frying advocacy). The result: A bird with possibly the "juiciest meat" First has ever had. The biggest downside: The stress of baby sitting a deep fryer outdoors makes the day's cooking feel "more like tailgating than a holiday of humble gratitude."
  • One New York pub will be serving some boozy (and stomach-churning) turkey this Thanksgiving: At O’Casey’s in midtown, birds will be “injected with 100-proof Georgi vodka.” The pub owner claims the recipe comes from his Irish mother, and promises that there’s "an ounce vodka in every bite." Because what’s more Thanksgiving-y than rolling bouts of nausea?
  • The FDA reminded us how to have a food-illness free Thanksgiving with its handy list of food safety tips (including ones we didn’t know, like the fact that rinsing the turkey before cooking "makes it more likely for bacteria to spread around the sink and countertops"). Honestly, we’re not sure how we survived this long.
  • At the Atlantic’s Food Channel, James McWilliams looked at the ethics of presidential turkey pardons. Since 1989, U.S. presidents have been picking two Thanksgiving birds to pardon (i.e., survive the holiday), and most have been sent to farms to live out their lives. George W., in a typical display of brilliant decision-making, chose to send his turkeys to Disney theme parks (where “they were crassly paraded about as holiday attractions”). Now it’s Obama’s turn to make a Thanksgiving statement with the birds -- and McWilliams hopes he’ll send them to an agrarian haven.
  • In the Chicago Sun-Times, Jill Barron, one of the city’s best vegetarian chefs, and her husband, Chris, shared their eccentric Thanksgiving suggestions with Michael Nagrant. Their plans may be a bit more ambitious than most people’s -- they’ll be welcoming more than 60 guests -- but the one truly surprising bit in the piece is their choice of stuffing: White Castle hamburgers. The head-turning recipe is available on the Sun Times Web site -- and Nagrant later told an equally surprised Grub Street, “It’s one of the best stuffings [he’s] ever made”
  • Also over at Grub Street, some high-profile chefs, including our Kitchen Cabinet’s own Amanda Cohen, recounted their greatest Thanksgiving disasters -- and Yerba Buena’s Julian Medina taught us why we’ll never try making a turducken: “I tried to defrost it very fast; I baked it and roasted it, and they take the bone out, so it was so dry. It was so inedible that we had one slice of turkey out of the whole thing.”
  • The Washington Post joined George Mason University staff as they cooked their Thanksgiving feast in a forest -- using a hand-dug hole, hot coals, and a nine-hour cooking time for their turkey. The tradition started in 1989 as a team-building exercise; the group uses six layers of foil to protect the meat from dirt, and once, while digging their hole, they discovered an 18th-century musket ball.
  • More practically, the N.Y. Times shared 101 side dishes that you can make in advance of your Thanksgiving feast (including delicious-sounding tomato-corn jam and pumpkin-noodle kugel), four adventurous forms of stuffing, and an Indian curry solution for your turkey leftovers. Sam Sifton, the paper's restaurant critic, will also be answering reader Thanksgiving questions until 3 p.m. (EST) on Thursday.
  • On a relaxing note, the NYT's Mark Bittman shared his soothing words of advice for those of us panicked about the prospect of cooking an elaborate holiday meal in the era of local/slow-cooked/organic/fair-trade foods: "Everyone is aware of the stresses of Thanksgiving, and nearly everyone -- the in-laws’ odd friends aside -- is appreciative of your time and effort … Forget your fears, relax, and enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good." Amen.

By Thomas Rogers

Thomas Rogers is Salon's former Arts Editor. He has written for the Globe & Mail, the Village Voice and other publications. He can be reached at @thomasmaxrogers.

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