Georgia Magazine - November 2012 - (Page 38)

Here’s to the holidays! Goodbye to guilty, overloaded dishes—these holiday sides are modernized I BY DEBORAH GEERING f the holiday fare wasn’t so ingrained in our culture, modern Americans would consider most of it rather exotic. Who roasts entire hams or whole birds? Or makes steamed puddings? Or serves two kinds of potatoes, and bread dressing, at the same meal? The thing is, our holiday meals weren’t always so out of synch with our daily eating habits. When the dishes we eat today at Thanksgiving and Christmas became part of those celebrations, they were basically what people ate routinely—just a little fancier or in more abundance. We really don’t need to fatten up for the winter, after all. These are still our holiday favorites ...just a little lighter, fresher, zestier. Once contemporary, these meals have remained locked in time, while our diets have evolved. Especially the traditional side dishes, to our stomachs, feel heavy, starchy, fatty. “We don’t have the context of hunger with which to give feasts meaning,” explains food historian Sandra Oliver, co-author of “Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie” (Clarkson Potter, 2005). Those 17thcentury diners knew that after the autumn harvest, food stocks would slowly dwindle until early spring, the hungriest time of the year, came. “A festival is supposed to be substantial,” she says. “So Thanksgiving, you see, is sort of set against hunger.” There is one feature of our holiday meals that does, however, seem ultra-modern: its seasonality. “If you look at the turkey, stuffing, mashed 38 Featuring the delicious flavors of the harvest, holiday guests will enjoy this side dish of Mustard-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples. potatoes, turnips or squash, pies— pumpkin, apple or mincement—and cranberry sauce, essentially at its heart is a New England seasonal and local meal,” Oliver notes. “No salad, and no green beans, for pity’s sake. That was an invention of the 1950s.” We still love these dishes, even if they do cause us to drift into a coma for a few days. But why not honor them with a teensy bit of updating, if only to make them more easily digested? We really don’t need to fatten up for the winter, after all. These recipes are still our holiday favorites … just a little lighter, fresher, zestier. And vegetarians in your group will appreciate that they’re all meat- and gravy-free. A fan of great holiday side dishes, Deborah Geering is a freelance food and gardening writer from Decatur. More online at dAVId H. NASH Who needs marshmallows when you can sweeten your “yams” with apples? The apples also serve to lighten the dish, while the mustard adds just a little jazz. Mustard-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples Nonstick vegetable oil spray 1/4 cup whole-grain Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons butter, melted 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice Zest of 1 lemon 2 small shallots (or 1 large), peeled, minced 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar 8 to 10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch rounds, and cut in half into crescents (larger pieces may be cut into quarters) GEORGIA MAGAZINE

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - November 2012

Georgia Magazine - November 2012
Picture This?
Liberty Notes
Georgia News
Calendar of Events
Festival Guide
Homes for the Holidays
Flip-Flops and Caviar: Winning Georgia Products
More Great Georgia Products
Around Georgia
Lodging and Dining on the North Georgia Art Ramble
My Georgia
Statement of Ownership
Georgia Gardens
Georgia Cooks
More Snapshot Submissions
Second Helping: More Holiday Side Dishes
Plant of the Month
November Online Trivia Contest

Georgia Magazine - November 2012