“Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered-in,
Ere the winter storms begin;”
It is gravitational and primal, the pull to return home, be that a physical place or a moveable group of people with a feast, for Thanksgiving. Statisticians claim that more people go home for Thanksgiving than do so for Christmas. Many of our cultural myths and legends, about who and how we are, coalesce around this particular autumnal holiday. The idea of gathering family and friends into a warm familial place and nourishing them with ritual foods is now completely integrated into our marrow, never mind our DNA.
Our country is vast and sufficiently diverse as to traverse many climate zones and regional idiosyncrasies. Each one has left its fingerprint on this unique, secular holiday. Imagine Thanksgiving being warm enough to set up tables outdoors. Or snowy enough to go sledding. Think of the culinary influences that can be justly brought to the table to mark our melting pot of heritages. One year its a Southwestern Thanksgiving and the next its grits with turkey gravy. Some of us think it’s fun to explore these different tastes in the context of tradition.
Others, however, show a marked tendency toward whatever traditional Thanksgiving means in their independent view of family. Even the most adventurous folk don’t really want to experiment much on this day. Regretably, I have learned that a single new dish is about all that will be tolerated, and then only if it does not displace some favored dish of long standing. So I’ve had to get pretty picky about what that experimental dish might be.
One thing that is both plentiful and greatly adaptable these days are all the beautiful forms of squash available in our market. One 19th C wag noted:
“For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies
We have pumpkin at morning and pumpkin at night
First squash, then parsnip, then pumpkin delight”
In desperation, some of us have been forced to find other uses for the plethora of squash.
Despite such sidewinding trips into silliness, there appears to be an endless variety of ways to put squash on the table for the purpose of consuming it. Today’s recipe is Chestnut Stuffed Squash with Leeks and Apricots. The type of edible squash you use is quite open, from Kabocha, Acorn and Delecta to Hokkai, Red Kuri and Lakota. On the Litchfield Hills Farm Fresh web site, you’ll find many other squash and Thanksgiving recipes including the Traditional Stuffing, Quinoa or Farro Stuffing, several pumpkin and other pies, Maple Walnut Cheesecake, and a selection of Cranberry relishes, sauces and conserves. There are also helpful hints in Talking Turkey that may give you a new time saving hack on this busy day.