Bob Evans and Thanksgiving

What are the best/worst dishes at Thanksgiving dinner?

Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year. Always has been, always will be. Even my mother who was definitely not a cook pulled together a good holiday meal. I have never personally pulled that off. I give good Thanksgiving guest, though. Feel free to invite me.

To me, the menu is very traditional – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and bread. Throw in some pumpkin pie and bam. My mother made her stuffing (really stuffed in the bird, not just dressing baked on the side) with lipton noodle soup. So it was bready and soggy with a lot of poultry juice. Also, heavy on the big chunks of onion and celery. Usually store bought rolls. I loved those.

My steelworker Dad worked shifts so our meal timing varied. Sometimes, it was 11 AM because he had to leave by 1. Sometimes we ate at 2 PM because he worked overnight and sometimes near actual dinnertime if he worked daylight. That never bothered me. Because the food was good. It was special and tasty. And no one usually got drunk until we started going to my aunt’s house for dinner each year.

You can imagine my excitement in the mid-1980’s when I realized that Bob Evans served Thanksgiving dinner – ALL YEAR ROUND. It was a suburban blue-collar white girl mother can’t cook dream come true. Plus, life sucked and finding solace in food was a reasonably acceptable coping mechanism.

Get dumped by your high school boyfriend? Thanksgiving dinner in July.

Terrified of starting college? Thanksgiving dinner at the Bob Evans in Virginia.

Three years in Baton Rouge? Thanksgiving dinner at the Bob Evans on the highway to Mississippi.

Twenty year anniversary of your father insisting he doesn’t have a drinking problem? Thanksgiving dinner at the Bob Evans in Virginia.

Tuesday in September while in graduate school? You get the point.

I can be flexible on the type of stuffing/dressing (no oysters – blah), but not the potato course. The best course of action is to add extra dishes, building around the core meal when you invite guests. Gluttony is one of the actual points of the official observation so why not drag some extra Tupperware dishes and go a little crazy with the sides? Mashed AND sweet potatoes? Rice pilaf even? Dinner rolls AND cornbread? Why not?

When I was first dating Ledcat, her mother called to discuss the Thanksgiving menu – this was maybe our third year together – and she suggested serving a cherry pie because of the nationwide shortage of canned pumpkin filling.

Cherry pie? INSTEAD of pumpkin?

I was on our sofa muttering about this not being George Washington’s birthday we were celebrating while Ledcat navigated that little derailment. I could handle yams, a salad course and the complete lack of any actual dairy products from the meal (including coffee), but CHERRY PIE?

I love experimenting with Thanksgiving traditions as long as I get *MY* meal. If I’m invited to totally alternative-menu type Thanksgiving, I enjoy regardless because I can always go to Bob Evans.

So to answer the question question

Best Dishes – turkey, stuffing, rolls, a well made green bean casserole

Worst Dishes – tomato soup, goose, cherry pie

It really boils down to having my pumpkin pie and eating it, too.



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