Your Thanksgiving dishes ranked

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DOUGLAS ROCHE III | SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER | droche@butler.edu 

Thanksgiving holds a special place in my heart in that it serves as a green light to get into the Christmas spirit. This year, however, the holiday is especially dear to me because only two weeks remain in the semester upon our return from the break. Granted, this will give some students — myself included — limited time to complete the papers and projects they have due before final exams, so I can see how this spurs frustration for some. Moreover, I should definitely be getting ahead on the three papers I have assigned in my Spanish Second Language Acquisition class, but covering my thoughts on the best Thanksgiving dishes sounded far more appetizing. 

This ranking is no critique to my mother’s and other family members’ indelible preparation of the listed dishes, but more so a reflection of my personal preferences of the 10 offerings that will be present on my family’s Thanksgiving table.

10. Turkey 

I am not sorry about this, nor do I feel like I am alone with the decision to put Turkey as my least preferable dish on Thanksgiving. If I am honest with myself, the sole motive for this article was to reveal to the world my disdain for what I believe is the most bland-tasting meat option this world offers. 

Healthwise, maybe only fish and chicken are a better option, but turkey’s dryness and sheer dependency on — a good — gravy solely to keep it from being a choking hazard is irredeemable on Thanksgiving. If it were up to me, my family would be having ham, which has a much richer taste, less of a dependency on sauce and makes for a better leftover sandwich once the table is cleared. 

9. Asparagus

There are some that vouch for this dish’s quality, but I am not one of those people. I do not have anything against asparagus, but, like turkey, there simply is not enough uniqueness to it. Green bean casserole appears pretty high on this list, which definitely influenced my decision to put this vegetable below the remaining dishes.

8. Valentine Jello

Valentine Jello is made up of strawberry jello and yogurt, which are then cut into circular portions that serve as a sweet, aesthetically pleasing addition to your dessert portion of Thanksgiving. 

It took several years for me to appreciate this one, but I believe this was because desserts are so allegiance-based. At a young age, everyone chooses the one dessert option — an ice cream flavor, type of pie, etc. — that a Thanksgiving dinner, and to some extent their personality, is not complete without. Valentine jello has been a traditional dessert for any holiday or milestone that gathers my family, but I always leaned towards an alternative at said holiday or milestone. Maybe I’m adopted.

7. Red Wine

I wanted to be sure to mention wine because, while it is not technically a dish, it certainly plays an instrumental role on Thanksgiving day. This is especially applicable to Michigan residents, who must endure the dumpster fire that is the Detroit Lions football team on Thanksgiving day. In the 21 times they have played on Thanksgiving since my birth, the Lions, who have played on Thanksgiving Day every year since 1934, have won nine times.

I was abroad when they played last year, which would have been my first Thanksgiving that I could legally drink wine. That said, however, I can confirm from watching their first 11 games this season that a modest glass of wine — or your beverage of choice — numbs the pain of remembering that this is your football team. It also helps remove the Sahara-esque dryness in your mouth from turkey.

6. Sweet Potato Casserole 

My family’s Irish roots require there be an abundance of starch available for everyone on Thanksgiving. This may be my roots speaking, but I could see this dish as a dessert option. The way the amalgamated cheese, bacon and potatoes all compliment each other is overlooked, as well as solidifies the versatility of the potato.

5. Green Bean Casserole

Green beans, mushroom soup and fried onions create a warm, multi-textured side that edges out sweet potato casserole, because unlike the symphony of tastes in sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole plays more like the orchestra in “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles. While sweet potato casserole creates harmony in how each ingredient compliments each other, green bean casserole is distinct and chaotic, but still a beautiful final product. 

4. Deviled Eggs

It’s addicting and fascinating that these are essentially a shot of mayonnaise and mustard inside of an egg. It is essential that you have this dish in the proper quantity, which I believe to be roughly two to four. I say this because while deviled eggs pack a punch, their filling nature takes up a lot more real estate in your stomach than one would expect.

3. Pumpkin Pie

I would choose pie in general over cake any day of the week. This holiday cornerstone acts as the finish line of Thanksgiving. You made it through eating turkey, you made it through your relatives interrogating you on what you want to do after college, you made it through the clashing of immovable political views at the table. Soon, you will be off to bed contemplating how big of a dent you want to put in your bank account on Black Friday. Nevertheless, you made it through the holiday, so congratulations.

2. Mashed Potatoes

This is probably the most cliché choice for second best Thanksgiving dish, but am I wrong? For a brief moment, this dish rids all emotional or psychological burdens in your life. There is nothing I can say about this dish that you do not already know, but I will leave you with this piece of advice: KFC mashed potatoes is a national treasure. 

1. Stuffing

Above all things, the break from school, seeing my family and sleeping in, this dish is what I look forward to the most over Thanksgiving. If it were up to me, this dish would be present at every holiday, milestone or birthday. For some reason, however, my family never chooses to prepare it outside of Thanksgiving. That could be why my love and desire for stuffing is at an all-time high this year. Its warm, soft exterior and crunchy exterior comprised of bread, meats and vegetables takes up at least 60% of my — first — plate on Thanksgiving. There is a reason people started stuffing their turkeys with it, and whoever thought of doing so should have a Nobel Prize.

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