Thanksgiving: Ranked

by Alexis Cope and Jack Morgenstein

Thanksgiving is a holiday unlike any other. It’s the one day a year where families and friends gather around a table, groaning under the weight of a meal that has taken hours upon hours to prepare. A meal filled with everything from marshmellowed potatoes to cranberry sauce that will stretch on into the next week, and then the next. It’s a holiday where anyone and everyone can eat anything and everything, no strings attached, no judgement. 

It’s a foodie’s heaven, and so, naturally, we two poor, humble eaters (me, Alexis, and me, Jack)have offered up our opinions on classic Thanksgiving Cuisine. Welcome the Thanksgiving Food Hall of Fame: 2019 inductees edition. 

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Best Vegetable:

Candied Yams

Thanksgiving is the only time of the year where I reach for the vegetables before anything else. Even with such a contested field, one dish stands head above the rest. Candied Yams are my vegetable of choice for the Thanksgiving season. With enough sugar to kill a small cow, these yams are almost more desert than vegetables – and that’s just how I like it.

Worst Vegetable:

Green Bean Casserole

    You know that one person in your life that always butts in and won’t stop talking even though you really REALLY would rather be doing anything else? Green bean casserole is that person at the Thanksgiving table. A staple of thanksgiving since 5 billion BCE, I wish it had died alongside the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Tasting like a mix between sawdust and expired spinach, I urge my fellow author to schedule an appointment with the oral pathologist.

Best Side:

Green Bean Casserole

I absolutely love veggies and honestly almost anything savory. So, of course, the winner of my heart is the one and only green bean casserole. Made with green beans slathered in creamy mushroom sauce, topped with crunchy, crispy onions that add both a flavor and texture undertone, it’s simply delicious, just as it always has been, a fact my fellow food critic hasn’t yet been able to realize. 

Worst Side:

Collard Greens

Among the world of greens there are some winners and losers, and collard greens are definitely a loser. When you fry this cabbage all it gets is slimy, wilted, and just plain sad. You could add bacon or onions or even both, but still, this dish is on my Do Not Touch List.

Best Southern Food:

Cornbread

    Cornbread always hits the palette like a warm bed after a long, cold day. This icon of southern cooking is among good company at Thanksgiving. One of my favorite foods to make, cornbread is quintessential comfort food. Straight out of the oven with a crispy, golden-brown crust, cornbread is as appealing to the eyes as to the mouth. The inside is soft, crumbly and sweet. The perfect palate cleanser between dishes, you’re doing it wrong if you don’t have cornbread at your Thanksgiving meal.

Best Southern Food—Runner Up:

Biscuits

    A close second, buttermilk biscuits are a sure crowd pleaser at Thanksgiving. Puffy, sweet, and delicious, buttermilk biscuits are great year round. There’s no food which quite perfects an inner spongy softness the way biscuits do. Too lazy to bake your own? A quick run to Bojangles and your southern Thanksgiving meal will be well on its way.

Best Meat:

Turkey

    It would be high treason to declare anything other than turkey the unequivocal best meat of Thanksgiving. It’s been the star of the show for hundreds of years. A uniquely North American bird, Turkey is chicken’s larger, better-tasting cousin. Cooked just right, juicy and soft, turkey with gravy is impossible to turn down just one more helping. Even though it’s majorly responsible for my 10 pound gain at this time of the year, turkey resoundingly wins the category of best meat.

Best Potato Dish: 

Mashed Potatoes 

Potatoes. I love ‘em. From yellow to orange to blue to white they are great, none more than the king of Thanksgiving potatoes: mashed potatoes. Not the instant kind, but the boiled, mashed, creamy, spiced and seasoned kind. They are the heart and soul of the Thanksgiving table, and let’s be real, when you run out of mashed potato leftovers, that’s when Thanksgiving really ends. 

Best Dessert: 

Apple Crisp

While pumpkin pie is the classic Thanksgiving dessert, I’d have to say that a good apple crisp can beat that any day. Apples are a favorite of mine, whether on their own, baked, or made into butter, so this was my obvious winner. And when they’re this warm, sweet, cinnamony, covered with that wonderfully crumbly top, and served with a good scoop of ice cream, who wouldn’t love this awesome dish?

Worst Dessert:

Coke Salad 

I’d never heard of this monstrosity until recently, and oh boy, it really is a monstrosity. There are way more recipes for this dish than I ever thought there’d be, and according to most of the ones I found, to make a classic cherry coke salad you will need: cherry jello, cherries, pineapple, cream cheese, coke, and sometimes pecans. Yeah, I think that list speaks for itself. 

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