I have never hosted a Thanksgiving gathering, but I hope to do so someday. I need to get a bit more settled, and have a home with the space (I have a big extended family), and until then I’m content to go to my mother's, my in-laws', or one of my siblings' houses, and bring a bottle of wine and a side dish.
I always look forward to the New York Times Dining section the week before the big day. The paper presents a platonic version of the holiday—many bright pictures and plenty of savory recipes, with no dishes to clean, or family arguments to regret.
Today’s edition includes a video about how to carve a turkey, Mark Bittman’s novel take on side dishes (think raw vegetables), Julia Moskin’s survey of innovative pie making, and Eric Asimov’s suggestions for hard cider.
And Harold McGee weighs in with a column that's of year-round interest: what cooking oil is best for frying, and why. He concludes that it’s a matter of taste and spending habits, but one thing he mentions gave me pause. “Frequent exposure to frying fumes has been found to damage the airways of both restaurant and home cooks. Fresh oils, and in particular fresh olive oils, generate the fewest toxic aldehydes,” he writes. I believe I’ll stick with the olive oil I favor.
If you are a father and you have a story about cooking your first (or any) Thanksgiving dinner, I'd like to hear it. Please drop me a line.