November 24, 2004
When the Pilgrims and Indians decided to pool resources for a massive three-day feast, they didn’t know they were establishing a rigorous holiday season gauntlet that would aggravate and exhaust their descendants four centuries later.
Or they didn’t care. Back then, it was all about the food.
Which isn’t a bad thing to remember this holiday season. Religious creeds may differ. Gifts can be the wrong size. Traditions can vary by age, ethnicity and sometimes even by ZIP code. And families, no matter how wellintentioned, can sometimes be combustible. But well-prepared food is a message that never suffers in translation.
"We are here together," it says, "so the day is worth savoring."
Beginning today, and continuing Wednesdays through Dec. 22, The Tribune will feature recipes for each major dish of a traditional holiday dinner. We’ll combine favorites from our various families, icons from our assorted regional and ethnic traditions, and recipes we found, whose meteorically high caloric and fat levels inspired love at first sight.
We begin with the turkey — a bird whose migratory range covers Thanksgiving and Christmas plates — and follow the schedule above. (See box.)
Our six-week series will provide a complete holiday dinner, allowing tenderfoot cooks a coordinated set of recipes and giving experienced chefs a chance to play theme and variation, mixing new ideas with their established favorites.
By offering these recipes, we get the opportunity to conjure some of our own holiday traditions to share.
And you get the added benefit of someone to blame. If a dish goes south, for any reason, it’s not grandma’s recipe or your own cooking skills at fault. It’s those crazy people at The Tribune. What were they thinking?
And if a dish works, any praise is yours to keep.
Preparing a holiday meal
Today: Turkey and stuffing Nov. 24: Vegetable side dishes; last-minute fixes Dec. 1: Holiday dinner takeout and presentation tips for noncooks Dec. 8: Cookies and desserts Dec. 15: Holiday breads Dec. 22: Putting it all together