Freedom From Want (1943) -- Norman Rockwell
part of his series on the Four Freedoms
Not a lot of people partook in a real life scene like this in 1943.
“We were the first in doing good to the English and the English the first in doing wrong.”
— Metacom/King Phillip (Wampanoag)
I like Thanksgiving. But I feel kind of weird about it. I enjoy the fact that it's a relatively low key holiday that involves eating spaghetti with squash-and-pesto-sauce (recipe below), stuffed peppers (recipe below), and exploded apples (recipe also below) and getting to see my relatives, but not much else. The vegetarian me is turned off by the sudden surplus of visions of anthropomorphic turkeys just dying to be eaten. The historian in me just can't stop thinking about smallpox, or about how "Days of Thanksgiving" were common in 17th century England, however they were companions to "Days of Humiliation and Mourning." We kept the fun part. Whatever happened to the latter? I mean, okay, there's some helping out at homeless shelters and charities, but on the whole, it seems to be just a runup to more Christmas partying. I think the nation could use a good day of voluntary humiliation and mourning once in awhile. Hopefully, it would give us some perspective.
Thanksgiving: Girl Praying (1943) -- Norman Rockwell
The less popular Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting, possibly because it's something of a downer.
I haven't even started talking about how Thanksgiving is often used to gloss over some of the less savory chapters of our national history, like, oh, our systematic near-extermination of several entire civilizations.
But this is a food blog, you say? Well, the personal is often political. Especially when the blog is about vegetarian food. There isn't that big a step from writing about Thanksgiving to writing about the politics of food to a broader discussion of all the topics (genocide, representation, environmentalism, the myth of American exceptionalism) brought up by writing about Thanksgiving and the politics of food.
Spaghetti with Squash Sauce
1 medium butternut squash, baked at 425 until brown and soft
2 tablespoons pesto sauce
(I like Classico, but you can use whatever -- the original recipe called for fresh garlic and basil but I can't afford that this week, however I always have a jar of pesto around)
salt and pepper to taste
3 pinches nutmeg
3 cups water
1 package of spaghetti
Combine ingredients in spaghetti pot, cook for three hours until mixture turns from orange to golden brown, let sit another hour. Boil the spaghetti according to the directions on the package. Pour sauce over the spaghetti and serve while still hot.
5 large Cubanelle peppers
1 large package of onion and sage stuffing
2 cups milk
1/4th cup cilantro or parsley
1/4th cup Romano cheese
pepper, curry powder, and salt to taste
Combine onion and sage stuffing, cheese, eggs, milk, and spices (cilantro et al) in large mixing bowl. Wash hands carefully and mix mixture by hand. (Keep some paper towels nearby so you don't contaminate the entire kitchen with egg.) Wash your hands carefully again. Clean and deseed the Cubanelles, then cut them in half legnthwise and stuff them with the stuffing mixture. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake them in the oven for an hour.
Core two apples all the way through and stuff the inside with raisins, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Put in microwave safe bowl, put the bowl in a microwave, cover with a paper towel, and cook on high for 2-3 minutes. They won't blow up over the whole microwave, but they will puff up and ooze quite satisfyingly.