Without a doubt, food is one of the best parts about the holiday season. Especially as a college student who doesn't know the first thing about cooking, this time of the year is my favorite. Getting away from the stress of school and heading to the dining table is what occupies my mind on my annual November drive from Flagstaff to Peoria. In light of this, I hope anyone reading this column had a lovely holiday and time away from work with people they care about.
But hey, I couldn't pass on a chance to rank the Thanksgiving dishes at my family's table this year. I included one Arabic dish from our dinner just for a cultural touch. They're all great in their own delicious right but there has to be a hierarchy and pecking order of some sort. Also, if you're a cranberry sauce enthusiast, there's the door.
Honorable Mention: Cranberry Sauce
The not-so-honorable mention is cranberry sauce. This stuff is 1000%, with no questions asked, the worst item on the Thanksgiving table each year. I have nothing against any brands or any form of preparing this dish. My only question is: Why? I don't think cranberry sauce is necessary as a condiment at the table each year. It is very possible to enjoy every Thanksgiving food without it, especially turkey. Putting cranberry sauce on turkey just looks and sounds ridiculous when there's gravy within arms reach. Do better, America.
I used to think stuffing was gross when I was a kid, but I believe it's something that starts to taste better as one matures. It has now become a staple on my Thanksgiving plate(s). The garlic and herbs allow it to pair well with anything, and it is totally essential at any table.
Yes, please. Yams are just amazing on every level. The sweet potato is easily one of my favorite foods, as the natural sweetened flavor makes it feel like a treat instead of a regular food. Don't even get me started on candied yams. The marshmallow and sweet potato combination is totally seamless.
Please hold your complaints until the end. Before I get attacked for putting the most known Thanksgiving food at No. 7 on a list of 10, let me just say that the most important part of evaluating turkey is the way it is prepared. Whether or not the turkey is dry will make or break the dish entirely. It is nice to have some warm gravy on top of your turkey, but when one must drench their turkey in it to compensate for dryness, turkey becomes very overrated.
Let's be completely honest. When have rolls ever let anyone down? Whether one is opening the roll to make a little sandwich with a piece of ham or simply eating the rolls as if they were potato chips, the roll is arguably the most versatile at the table. I'm happy to eat rolls on every other day besides the holiday, so I'm always glad to show love to rolls.
You probably don't know what this is. Dolma is a Mediterranean dish that is primarily made by Arabic people. It is grape leaves, stuffed with rice, beef and plenty other delicious ingredients. It has the texture of an egg roll, and they are one of my favorite things to eat at Thanksgiving. I would recommend anyone give this a try if they have the opportunity.
Ham lands in a solid place on the spectrum, comfortably beginning the top five. It is far superior to turkey, because of the new dynamic that pineapple and honey brings to a Thanksgiving ham. Pineapple slices squeezed over top, along with a slight glaze of honey makes for a savory, amazing flavor that makes me feel like I'm eating the one and only food of the holidays.
4. Green Bean Casserole
I'll preface this paragraph by saying that I love vegetables, and when green beans are prepared correctly they are the greatest vegetable in the world. The right amount of salt is essential, in my opinion. My family serves green beans frequently but the casserole only gets broken out during the holidays. Topping this dish with fried french onions is the ultimate finishing touch, and I couldn't imagine my Thanksgiving plate without it.
3. Pumpkin Pie
The elite of the pie family is this one right here. This is the best dessert at any Thanksgiving, and probably the most sought after, too. Once dessert is served at my family's house, you have a very limited amount of time to get a slice or two of pumpkin pie. People go crazy for this stuff and do not forget the tiny squirt of whipped cream to top it all off.
2. Macaroni and Cheese
If it weren't for what I'm going to put at No. 1, macaroni and cheese would easily be the top choice for me. This is such a delicious and integral part of a Thanksgiving feast, and there are so many tasty ways to make it. I think this is my comfort food, really. I'll never say no to a bowl of it, and especially when my auntie makes lots of it for the holiday.
1. Mashed Potatoes
Everybody give a round of applause for the backbone of the Thanksgiving table. Mashed potatoes are the cream of the crop and absolute anchor on anybody's plate. I could eat heaps on heaps of this stuff and not feel the slightest bit of guilt while doing so. Remember, getting each and every lump out of the mashed potatoes is the key component in the dish. Mashed potatoes and gravy is definitely a duo that makes for my favorite dish of this holiday.