A few days ago, I saw an unusual recipe online for Grilled Turkey with Celery Walnut Pesto sauce. It looked amazing. But my first thought was that my family would absolutely revolt if I tried to sneak such an unusual recipe onto the holiday table. Pesto in lieu of gravy? Unheard of!
My husband and I both do quite a bit of cooking, and we experiment with new recipes all year long, but when it comes to the holidays, my family and extended family always want traditional fare. For me it's about the simplicity of the meal. And it's also about sticking with recipes that are know are winners. If a recipe flubs on any other day of the year, there is always pizza delivery to the rescue. But that just won't cut it on Thanksgiving.
The whole thing got me thinking: do most people like to stick with tradition or are other families more adventurous when it comes to holiday meals? In the name of science, I conducted a double-blind, peer-reviewed poll on both Facebook and Twitter to find out. Here are the results:
Traditional - 61% "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Andi S.
By far the vast majority of folks I polled prefer the traditional holiday meal. Our food blogger, Robin Shreeves, defined it best with her comment: "Total traditionalist. turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and green beans. Every year. I switch up the wines, though!"
For some, it's about simplicity and fool-proof recipes. While for others, Thanksgiving just wouldn't be the same without Grandpa's famous stuffing or Aunt Marie's recipe for green bean casserole. As Mary Clare Hunt, author of "In Women We Trust, A Cultural Shift to the Softer Side of Business" noted, "I like the recipes that have my mom's, aunt's, and grandmother's fingerprints on them. Cooking was their art form and this is a way to keep them present at my table."
Experimental - 22% "I'm cooking - I get to do whatever the heck I like." Jennifer Taggart, The Smart Mama.
While the majority of folks stick with traditional food for the holidays, there is still a large portion of folks who like to experiment with their holiday meals. Priscilla Matuson, The Gluten-Free Mama Who Knows, says "I normally host and I love using this time to try new recipes."
The Smart Mama's Jennifer Taggart plans to try a cranberry dish with cassis and sour dried cherries and bourbon brown butter mashed sweet potatoes this year. Others plan to alter the menu to make the traditional Thanksgiving meal healthier and/or more fitting to their organic, gluten-free, lactose-free, vegetarian or paleo diets.
Mixed - 17% "I always love to have the traditional things we all love but I also try to do a few things that are new. If you forget the oldies but goodies, people get really bummed out but it is fun to add some new things." Shane Smith, Environmental Booty.
Last, but not least, we have the segment of folks who like to stick with the traditional Thanksgiving menu, while throwing in a few twists along the way. As Alexa B. noted, "if I am eating the meal, I like all the traditional food that my Grandmother makes. If I am making the meal, I like to try a new twist on the classics ... mainly because I will never be able to make it as good as Nan does so I might as well make it 'my own'!!"
So there you have it. It seems that no matter what type of holiday meal you like to cook and/or eat, there are plenty of folks who feel the same. Let's just hope some of them are in your own family!
I hope that whatever type of meal you share with your family, it is one filled with love and shared with gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.