Naturally, I've been thinking lately of holiday variations. Of course, there are many similarities between Thanksgiving here and back home. We are, after all, still in America. I have to remind myself of that occasionally. For example, most people try to connect with family, if travel and distance are not prohibitive. The holiday generally focuses around eating a large meal together. Sports fans rally 'round the television and watch hours and hours of football. And people go crazy to start Christmas shopping the day after. But that's about where the parallels end.
Here are some interesting differences I've discovered. Please keep in mind, these are purely my own observations, they're certainly generalizations, and there are always exceptions to any rules.
- While turkey seems to be the protein of choice on Thanksgiving day, in Louisiana, folks seem to be more open-minded to other options. I don't think it would be uncommon to find something a hunter may have bagged, such as duck or venison, a nice pork loin or beef brisket. A little boudin on the side. Or a turducken.
- A turducken is, as far as I know, a uniquely Louisiana delicacy . . . a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey. All de-boned and stuffed again with dressing, usually rice dressing. I'd never heard of this until moving to Lake Charles. Our first Thanksgiving here, we bought one out of sheer curiosity. Frankly, we were not impressed. Not that it was bad, necessarily, but it just wasn't . . . good. And it was a mess. There was no way to slice it neatly. It just sort of fell apart on the platter. Since then, I've never heard anyone say they actually like turduckens. Yet thousands are sold this time every year.
- Yes, Louisianians eat stuffing, or dressing, but it's usually rice. Maybe cornbread.
- For some Louisiana families, Thanksgiving dinner is a big pot of gumbo and some pecan pies. Can't argue with that.
- In Pa., from the time I was a kid, Thanksgiving break was always a long weekend, Thursday-Monday. Here, the kids are off the whole week. Add the two weekends on either end, and that's nine days off. Makes traveling for the holiday a lot easier.
- In Pa., if I'm not mistaken, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving starts "hunting season." Lot's of men take this day off work, making the weekend just a little longer. The hunters in Pa. hope for a dusting of snow, so they can more easily track the deer. Snow tracks do not cross a hunter's mind in Louisiana. And in La., (I know this can't be true but it seems to me) it's hunting season year around!
- Shorts and t-shirts. 'Nuff said there.
How about you? What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions, where do you go to celebrate, and what's on your holiday table?