By Matthew Marchbanks, Staff Writer
Let the countdown begin…
As the headliner of Thanksgiving dinner, turkey is one of the most iconic elements of a holiday dinner. Despite this clout, turkey still finds itself only coming in tenth on this list. This is because the potential that turkey brings to the table is quite limited, and oftentimes can detract from the rest of the dinner.
Casserole plays an important role on the dinner table. It can take foods that usually leave much to be desired, such as green beans and asparagus, and make them palatable dishes even to those who detest vegetables.
- Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
A culinary classic, mashed potatoes, and gravy is a dish that brings up the other foods around it. The dryness of turkey is offset by the creaminess of gravy, and the addition of mashed potatoes can transform one of the least exciting foods into an appealing dinner addition.
- Sweet Potatoes
It’s a fact: Sweet potatoes and marshmallows come together better than peanut butter and jelly, and this combination will always improve a dinner. End of story.
Ham improves turkey in every arena. It is the easier, tastier, and more tender protein. Rather than be dry and bland, ham is juicy and flavorful, not to mention exponentially easier to prepare.
As the base of dinners across America, stuffing plays an important role in unifying the many complex and distinct holiday foods. Stuffing enhances turkey, it’s decidedly lackluster vessel, and brings flavor to an almost insultingly bland food.
Rolls are an integral part of any holiday dining experience. They are more than just a side, they are a signal of the upcoming feast. The short preparation time usually makes them one of the last foods to be made. They play a role that is arguably greater than any other dish, as the smell of rolls baking in the oven signals that dinner’s almost ready, and the aroma preps the entire family for the rest of their evening together.
- Cranberry Sauce
A bit of a sleeper, cranberry sauce is one of the greatest, and simultaneously least appreciated, sides of a holiday dinner. Cranberry sauce is a side that by itself is underwhelming, but whose value is multiplied by its ability to enhance the other components of the plate. Cranberry sauce adds a new layer of tart and sweet, a combination that isn’t seen in the primarily savory foods present in a holiday meal. Cranberry sauce is also the only food on this list that is almost exclusively served on holidays such as Thanksgiving.
- Macaroni and Cheese
The most commanding food on the plate, macaroni and cheese can either make or break a meal. A positive or negative reaction to the mac ‘n’ cheese will set the mood of the table and oftentimes determines the quality of the dinner as a whole. The popularity of this food for people of all ages, along with its potential to be great, earns macaroni and cheese its place on this list.
Let’s be real: The purpose of eating these dinners is to get to the dessert. The process of preparing food, going through the day, and eating is for one ultimate goal. Pies, cakes, and everything in between provide relief from the rest of dinner. No other food has the same impact as the desserts. Desserts represent the light at the end of the tunnel, the pinnacle of the dining experience, and when looking back on the evening, are the metaphorical icing on the cake.