I'm prejudice, I admit. I can't get past the look of the oyster, chestnut, fresh bread or and any other versions. Cornbread dressing upstages the bird on my family's table every Turkey Day. In my book, my mother-in-law's so hits the spot, I don't need the bird with it. The dressing, particularly in the Deep South, is so popular that Sam Sifton, author of Thanksgiving (How To Cook It Well), includes two versions in his well acclaimed work (available on Kindle for $1.99). Though, I do take exception to his listing the obvious first-place cornbread recipe second to Fresh Bread.
This is a dish, bias aside, that is steeped in my upbringing and culture. Lore and my grands and greats say recipes resembling the tasty side date back to slavery when poor black people made the most of the innards of the turkey left as scraps after the real feast had been prepared in the big house. Corn was plentiful , and the other main ingredients (onions, chives and celery) were grown in slave quarter gardens from leftover seedlings gathered by field workers during veggie planting time. My Grandmother Susie Thomas, the quintessential Creole cook, first told me about cornbread and rice (aka "dirty rice") dressings, the latter a staple side at many Louisiana holiday gatherings. My two families have honored these sides at Thanksgiving and other holiday times through generations.
That's my story. While we come from an assortment of cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and have many food stories behind our family beginnings, the one thing we share in this country this week is the celebration and customs of Thanksgiving Day. In the spirit of sharing and giving, I invite erace your isms visitors and readers all week to post their food traditions.