Sam Sifton, former restaurant critic and food columnist at the New York Times, was on All Things Considered Tuesday morning. Though his publicist probably scolded him for not more overtly plugging his new book, 'Thanksgiving, How to Cook It Well', his thoughts on the Thanksgiving meal resonate with all the contentment of mashed potatoes swimming in gravy.
Mr. Sifton is an advocate for simplicity, not just for the sake of upholding tradition in a puritanical way, but for what simplicity affords in terms of focus and calm. "This is a stressful holiday, and there's no real reason to make the cooking more stressful than that." Amen.
As natural as it is to be subconsciously (or not) competitive in dish preparations, he argues that "There should be no swordfish at Thanksgiving. There should be no beef tenderloin at Thanksgiving. Ham is an abomination at Thanksgiving. There should be a turkey. Turkey is why you are here." Indeed it is.
This sentiment is carried all the way forward to dessert, on which he laments our compulsion "...to go whole hog wild to create some kind of parfait or some chocolate extravaganza." His simple rule? "There must be pie." Specifically, apple pie.
Extrapolating this philosophy to wine, one can infer a few guidelines for a simple, more stress-free Thanksgiving:
- Apple Pie. Go American. Though historically inaccurate, personally I feel there are fewer statements more American than Zinfandel. It's brash, ballsy, and swaggering - and can embody the hopefulness of possibility, depending on your mood and selection.
- Practice Monogamy. Embrace fidelity, reduce the clutter, and serve one wine on the table. Fall in love with it and spend the evening enjoying its warmth. Less bottle hopscotching means more
- Famdamnily. As tempting as it is to use wine as a distraction, coping mechanism, and/or flat-out elephant-in-the-livingroom avoidance tool, take a deep breath and remember that there's a reason you're all around the same table. Enjoy one another, simply, for a day, because it's a long year until next Thanksgiving. If that doesn't work, keep a corkscrew within arm's reach at all times.