In a couple of days it will be Thanksgiving. Perhaps more than any other holiday meal, traditional Thanksgiving dinner takes a lot of preparation (I don’t know this from first hand experience of course, being male, but there always seems to be a lot going on in the kitchen while I’m trying to watch football). After all, not unlike the presents at Christmas and the fireworks on the 4th of July, the meal at Thanksgiving is the main attraction. Not only does the meal itself require much preparation and attention to detail, so too does the eater of said meal. At least if he or she wants to enjoy it to its fullest capacity. In that spirit, I offer my helpful tips for pre-Thanksgiving dinner preparation:
#1 – The Day Before
In order to fully appreciate a Thanksgiving dinner the way the pilgrims did, it is necessary to stuff your face. In order to do so effectively–without re-eating everything, only backwards–the innards must be properly prepared. Your innards. The key is the stretching of the stomach. There are a variety of methods to accomplish this. One way is to study the tactics used by Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke before the 50-hardboiled-eggs-in-one-hour bet. Running to build up endurance and having George Kennedy massage your stomach my have worked for Luke, but who wants George Kennedy’s greasy paws rubbing their abdomen. No thank you. Besides, running is exhausting and eating takes energy.
Another less George Kennedy intensive method is to drink of a lot of fluids. At first glance, this would seem very effective. Not only can it stretch the stomach, but it also allows for rapid disposal before the festivities begin. However, the elimination may be too rapid, giving the stomach time to shrink to normal size while you sleep.
No, the key is to eat a solid food that is easily digestible. Taking a page from the competitive eaters handbook, I suggest grapes or a similar fruit. Even your average eater can put down a lot of grapes in a days time, and they are easily digested, but not so easy that they will leave your stomach with nothing to do. The stomach is like any other muscle, leave it idle and it will atrophy. Grapes are perfect for a pre-Thanksgiving warm-up.
#2 – The Day Of
Some will tell you that it is best to avoid eating anything prior to the meal, thereby leaving plenty of room for Turkey and all the fixin’s. This is folly. If you do this you will admittedly be ravenous by the time you sit down to begin the gorging. However, often times when you are that hungry you will begin to feel nauseated or otherwise not right in the tum-tum. Nothing kills a good feast like a bellyache. By all means eat breakfast, just be sure to keep it light and to eat it well in advance of dinner to allow for maximum digestion. A bowl of cereal, maybe some toast, or, again, fruit is an excellent choice here. Even a couple eggs would be fine. Avoid heavy, starchy things like pancakes, waffles, or oatmeal. But that should be obvious, even to the novice. Don’t deny yourself an orderv (yes, I know that’s not how to spell it) or two, but be careful not to overdo it. Stay focused on what’s ahead.
There is no right or wrong way to eat the actual meal. Take what you like, skip what you don’t. Make the most of it, it’ll be another year before you can eat this way without people gasping in disgust.
After dinner and desert, the evening turkey sandwich is a must. Don’t worry about leaving room for this while enjoying the main meal, when the time is right, the space will present itself to you. I usually go with sourdough bread, or a couple leftover dinner rolls, mayo, mustard, and the turkey. Others add butter, cranberry sauce, or even stuffing. This part is freeform, so feel free to experiment.
#3 – The Day After
For crying out loud, go get some exercise! You ate like a glutton yesterday!
I hope you will find these tips helpful and that they will help you have a more effective, and enjoyable, Thanksgiving dining experience. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!