The Thanksgiving dinner table is a sacred place, and we all have a vision of the perfect holiday meal. But what are the most important dishes? If it came down to stuffing or turkey, which would you choose?
We can all be thankful such decisions rarely come to pass, for we Americans can always find room on our plates. But just for sport, I gathered two fellow Thanksgiving fanatics, Melissa and Vince, and held the first-ever Thanksgiving Dinner Fantasy Draft. With 27 dishes on the table, we drew straws for draft order, and picked until they were all gone, to see whose final meal roster would result in the most satisfactory food coma. Naturally, I won - at least I think so. But you can judge for yourself. -- Joe Tone
Meat (pick one): Turkey, turducken, tofurkey. Sauces (pick one): gravy, cranberry sauce, apple sauce. Carbs (pick two): stuffing, mash potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie, rolls, cornbread. Veggies (pick two): creamed corn, creamed spinach, brussel sprouts, green bean/broccoli casserole, butternut squash soup, green salad. Desserts (pick two): apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, vanilla ice cream, cinnamon ice cream, cheesecake. Beverages (pick two): milk, beer, wine
1. Melissa -- Gravy
Gravy is my secret weapon. All the meat and carbs are raised to a new
plateau when smothered in this magic elixir. This pick is both
strategic and a testament to what gravy can achieve. I may get stuck
with tofurkey in the end, but even the sin of vegetarians can be
forgiven if the fake meat swims in a pool of gravy.
2. Vince -- Stuffing
I'm taking stuffing -- regardless of the quality. It could be
scrumptious oyster stuffing or Stove Top -- it matters not. 1. You have
to think of reheating options. Stuffing not only stands up incredibly
well being scarfed down two or three days after Thanksgiving, but it's
also versatile, good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack. 2. I
always go out Thanksgiving night to escape relatives, and stuffing's
ability to sop up Christmas Ale and Crown Royal is unparalleled. 3.
It's the perfect side note to potatoes, meat, and vegetables. You can't
have discordant selections on your plate.
3. Joe -- Turducken
Fools. This is a holiday about eating yourself sick, retiring to the couch, and half-napping while Joe Buck tries to make the Lions game interesting, even though we all know the Lions should have been kicked off of Thanksgiving 15 years ago. And you can't do all that without meat. So I select the Turducken. It's meat stuffed with meat stuffed with meat, enough flesh to kill a PETA volunteer on sight. I like my Turducken wrapped in bacon, so that's how my fantasy Turducken shall appear on my fantasy table. I am more than happy with this choice. Although I must say I'd love some gravy right about now.
4. Melissa - Mashed potatoes
Ha, ha suckers, I have gravy and mashed potatoes. No better combination on the table. Any veggie will be instantly heightened by drowning them into my mound of whipped taters. There is something special about how these root veggies taste on this day of thanks. Perhaps it's that we all add in that extra stick of butter or pinches of salt, that we normally restrain from on the other 364 days, but I'm feeling a extra cocky about this pick.
5. Vince -- Beer
And a whole fuck-ton of it. Listen, none of us want to be at dinner with the people seated next to us on this day, and all the tryptophan and carbs in the world aren't going to dull the pain or get you to sleep quickly enough. Eight thousand calories of food is just going to make you immobile, so when Uncle Tom starts telling you about his hemorrhoids, you won't be asleep, you'll just be too fat to move away from him. I'll take my delicious beer -- enough at first to make me belligerent and vulgar, so no one wants to talk to me, and eventually enough to sleep through the doing of dishes. Stay sober, suckers!
6. Joe - Apple pie
Excellent call, Vince. You are a much more committed alcoholic than previously thought. But you underestimate my napping skills. After eating an entire Turducken, I will sleep, and Uncle Tom will know it, because I will be drooling on his shoulder. And then I will wake up, re-button my pants, go directly to the dessert table, and collect my apple pie. That's right, I said apple. Take your pumpkin and your pecan. I'm a year-round American, and I like a year-round American dessert, one made with fake apples and really gooey fake apple stuff. Meat. And sugar. A man needs nothing else.
7. Melissa - Pumpkin pie
For fear of losing it, I'm following Joe's lead and going for pumpkin pie. At this point in the draft it appears I am drafting all foods that do not require chewing. The perfect meal for toddlers and the elderly.
Pumpkin pie also makes the best breakfast food.
8. Vince - Collared greens
I'm going off the draft board and picking collared greens, a food that did not perform well in the Thanksgiving combine and then didn't show up for individual team workouts. Little known in the north, collared greens wasn't recruited heavily. But there's bacon in there. You can never go wrong with bacon.
9. Joe -- Cornbread
Staying in the south, I'm going cornbread. Admittedly, corn bread without mashed potatoes and gravy for dunking is like buying a box of donut holes when there's no Canadian Club to chase with. But assuming there's a bathtub of butter on the table, you can't go wrong with warm, flaky cornbread.
10. Melissa -- Turkey
I told myself I'd be okay with Tofurkey, that the bird didn't matter. But who's kidding who? I want the MAIN EVENT. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it.
11. Vince - Sweet potato pie
Screw the main course, especially since the only option left is Tofurkey, and that's like sleeping with a transvestite when you really want a woman -- it might get the job done, but it's completely fake, and you'll probably never admit it to anyone.
I'm going sweet potato pie. People who like pumpkin pie over its more succulent, cooler, and better looking older brother lack a developed palate and probably also think TGI Fridays serves good food.
Sweet potato pie is the shit.
12. Joe -- Milk
It does a body good. And it makes me sleepy.
13. Melissa - Vanilla ice cream
I'm going to round out my dessert picks with Vanilla ice cream. Although I prefer cinnamon and would like to take it from Joe (apple pie), it just won't work with my pie choice. Here's hoping it's Ben & Jerry's.
14. Vince -- Broccoli casserole
My mom made it with Cheeze Whiz, Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, and frozen broccoli. If that doesn't scream Thanksgiving in the Midwest, I don't know what does.
Also, broccoli is the meat of vegetables.
15. Joe - Creamed corn
Frankly, it's the only of the available veggies that does anything for me, as veggies are a terribly overrated food group. I'm only taking it because it's creamed. I'll eat anything creamed.
16. Melissa -- Creamed spinach.
It follows suite with my foods you do not need to chew. Also full of cream and butter, the unspoken staple of Thanksgiving.
17. Vince - Green salad
Dressed as follows: Walnuts, pears, bleu cheese, balsamic vin. dressing, sopresseta, grapes, carrots, mixed greens. Actually, fuck that. Give me iceberg, handfuls of mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and creamy caesar dressing. More calories than you're entire meal, Melissa. That's a salad.
18. Joe - Cinnamon ice cream
Damn it, I was going the same place: salad, only with shredded cheddar, croutons, bacon bits, and enough ranch to sink a tugboat. Instead, I'm going cinnamon ice cream, because it's ice cream, and ice cream it why I eat dinner to begin with. That it's cinnamon, and will be topping my warm, crispy apple pie, only makes the decision easier. The only remaining question is how many bowls I'll eat. (over/under: 3.5)
19. Melissa -- Butternut squash soup.
Both an appetizer and a side. Warm and creamy. (Side note: How do lactose intolerant people survive Thanksgiving? Everything's creamed or whipped.)
20. Vince -- Wine
Wine. I already have beer, so thusly I'm securing the fact that the two of you will be dead cold sober for this feast and I will be drunk, which means that I won't know if I'm enjoying my food or not. In fact, I'll probably spill half of it on myself as I'm swinging my glass wildly while I explain why humans shouldn't drink cow's milk. If any of my food gets too dry, I'll have no need for gravy. I'll scoff at your cranberry sauce. I'll just dunk it in my golden chalice filled with alcoholic goodness.
21. Joe -- Rolls
Who invited the hammered guy? I already have a bread (corn), so this may be used as trade bait later, since no decent american can make it through T-day without some tasteless carbs drenched in butter and gravy. One of you will cave.
If not, pass the butter. And the defibrillator.
22. Melissa - Cranberry
I'm keeping it traditional and going for the cranberry. Unless you two are planning on soaking that stuffing and turducken in booze and milk, you may want to jump on the condiments.
23. Vince - Sweet potatoes
I can't believe sweet potatoes have dropped this far in the draft. That ends now, because they've just joined Team Drunk. Nothing like sweet pototaes as a side dish and dessert, but like I said, it all tastes the same with a BAC of .12.
24. Joe - Apple sauce
Sweet potatoes fell because they're gross. I dread the vision of them on my table. My children will not know this abhorrent version of the potato.
And so, I welcome apple sauce. It's no gravy, but it's apple-y, and it's saucy, and if the turducken gets dry, it's a reliable dipping option in a pinch.
25. Melissa -- Cheesecake
Cheese + cake = good times.
26. Vince - Pecan pie
It's just not Thanksgiving unless you eat something sticky enough to be able to pick out of your teeth in the morning and remember how good it was
27. Joe - Brussel sprouts
Because while there's not a chance I put these anywhere near my mouth, drafting them ensures that the Tofurkey stays right where it belongs - on the table, unwanted and alone, a sad excuse for a Thanksgiving dish.
Melissa: Gravy, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, turkey, vanilla ice cream, creamed spinach, cheesecake, cranberry, butternut squash soup
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Vince: Stuffing, beer, pecan pie, wine, caserole, sweet potato pie, sweet potatoes, green salad, collard greens
Joe: Turducken, apple pie, milk, creamed corn, apple sauce, brussel sprouts, cinnamon ice cream, cornbread, rolls
Joe, obviously. But if you disagree, let us know in the comments below. And happy Thanksgiving.