This is my weekly newspaper column:
You would think that I would jump at the chance to write about Thanksgiving, given that it is next Monday, and is the perfect topic for a column like this. Sometimes I forget to write about a holiday or celebration in a timely fashion, as I have to generally write about it a week ahead of time (unless it is Christmas, then I generally regale you with several columns heralding the upcoming festivities). But, I do not think I have ever forgotten to write a column about Thanksgiving. Almost did this year though. As I lay in bed racking what little brain power I have left, I had a eureka moment when I realized that Thanksgiving was coming up…..fast. And if I were going to write about it, this is the time to do it.
I love Thanksgiving, but I think I have almost exhausted the topic, having written about it since this column got its start in 1998. I have told you that Sir Martin Frobisher started it all in 1578 when he landed in Newfoundland. So what if he was looking for the Northwest Passage to the Orient—he found us. And he was so happy, (along with his crew) that they decided to celebrate their safe arrival on dry land with a celebration of sorts, which turned out to be our first Thanksgiving.
You already know that we beat the Americans to the celebration by about (okay 1621-1578=43) forty-three years, which I think gives us the right to celebrate it any way we want to—turkey or not.
Turkey, as any of those who have read even one of my Thanksgiving columns knows, is my nemesis. The unwieldy bird tastes delicious, but I really do not like knowing it on such an intimate basis. This year we are having ham, and a nod to turkey. My turkey is coming from a box—it is a Butterball Seasoned Boneless Stuffed Turkey Breast, which according to directions on the box is to be “cooked from frozen” and feeds 6 to 8 people. It needs about four hours in the oven. But I do not need to stuff it. Or hardly even touch it. And there will be no shaking of hands with the leg to see if it is done—my meat thermometer is supposed to register 165 degrees, and voila—I will have a ready-made (if legless) feast.
Upon reading the ingredient list, I find that the turkey is “wrapped in an edible carrageenan film” (hmmmm…..) but hey, what is a little carrageenan film among friends and family? Curious, I Googled carrageenan film in the interest of good investigative reporting (and to comfort myself with the fact that it is not going to kill my family) and found out that it is an edible film made from water-soluble polysaccharides, and gives meat and poultry a “more tender bite, and does not affect its nutritional profile”. (sigh of relief) Okay now do I want to know what polysaccharides are? I think not. I will stop the investigation now, before I decide not to cook the turkey breast.
I am not sure that I have divulged the fact that we (Canada) dilly dallied around with the date of Thanksgiving until 1957 when it was finally decided, once and for all, to celebrate the feast on the second Monday of October. I learned this fact from Amanda Green who wrote an article on mental_floss about the subject and stated that: “Thanksgiving’s a lot less confusing now that Canada’s one big tribe and can always count on the same annual three-day weekend.”
I am all for less confusing—so I am glad that there are a least a few things we can count on as Canadians—and if having Thanksgiving on the second Monday of my favourite month of the year is one of them, I am all for it.
I hope that you find some wonderful things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Life is not all wonder and light—but we can be grateful for those times that are, and for edible film that has a tender bite and does not affect nutrition.