Memorable Meals

By Gretchen Morfogen


This month is a planning month. Planning for the year end holidays, planning for visiting family, planning for kids out of school, planning meals, planning parties and planning for the season decorating, each year we plan.

Planning ahead can help with the stress of putting together the family holiday meal. Even though Thanksgiving is a fairly predictable meal overall – every family has some twist on the tradition that is uniquely their own. What makes the meal so deliciously memorable (or not). That could be said for any meal worth remembering.

What is it about a meal had years ago that remains in our minds palate but we can’t recall what we had last Tuesday for lunch. Most of eat for sustenance and what where or how isn’t important. That is in itself an easy memory loss- nothing enjoyed or appreciated therefore unmemorable. Where we eat, how we eat and with whom we eat are just as important as what we eat in order to attain memorability.

Lunch in medieval Lyon with my son on a warm summer day – goat cheese crostini on fresh garden greens, perfected duck confit on green lentils and spinach, butcher paper antipasto with warm crusty bread at an Italian deli in Solon, Ohio, or picnic on the beach with cold soba noodles and oysters right out of Tamales Bay…. There are so many unbelievably tasty memories that I could write a book on them but choose to keep them cherished in my memory in order to create new ones every day.

This year, make your holiday meal not only delicious and care provoked but give it a little extra love for the people that are coming to share it with you. The quality of the ingredients, the recipes that are timeless part of your repertoire and the effort you put into the meal will making sitting down to the table that much more enjoyable.

Heirloom/heritage breed turkeys, organic or fresh- the bird is the centerpiece of the table this month. If your meal starts with an amazingly raised bird the rest will be a breeze. I prefer Champagne or sparkling wine with my holiday meal every year with a favorite being Blanc de Noir (French or California- both are delish). As for other components of the meal, do some research. There are so many search engines for recipes on the internet if you are feeling adventurous, swap ideas with your friends, the food channels are sure to have a plethora of ideas on their shows this month. If you’re pressed for time make it a pot luck holiday meal- don’t feel like you can’t assign courses to others in the family (unless they are the ones who have a penchant for being bad cooks J) they can bring the wine/beverages.

Several local farmers are raising heirloom/heritage turkeys these days and a quick check on the website http://www.comharvest.org/features/heritage-turkeys.jsp will help you find the farms in your area that have heritage breeds available. Reserve now – they are selling out fast!

Gretchen Morfogen is a regular culinary writer for The Healthy Planet magazine.