For those of us living in the United States, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It is a time to come together, celebrate with those you love, and give thanks for all you have. And while the day will bring about a bountiful meal that symbolizes the event, something we all fear will also arrive: the dreaded Thanksgiving commentary. Sooner or later, this awkward conversation will begin, no doubt involving politics and some rather discerning remarks from a grandparent. But what if I told you there was a way to avoid this entirely?
The Thanksgiving feast and commentary are intrinsically linked; without one, you won’t have the other. So instead of getting rid of the feast, we simply need to alter it. If you change the generic turkey into something more exciting you can shift the conversation. However, to deal with the extremes of such conversations, we need to make the food extreme, for better or for worse.
Appetizer Alternative - Century Eggs
If your family is like mine, a common appetizer put out before the main course is a plate of deviled eggs. As an alternative to this, put out a bowl of century eggs. These dark, strangely patterned delicacies are made by burying them in a mixture of mud, rice husks, and salt for weeks to months. The alkaline allows the egg to cure instead of spoil, resulting in a creamy jelly that smells like urine. The eggy energy these salty orbs put off will be enough to stop your father from saying anymore of those miserable dad “yolks.”
Side Alternative - Durian
A popular choice for a Thanksgiving side, cranberry sauce is usually plated straight from the can. Let’s stick with fruit and substitute it with something that also comes with a hard, outer package: durian. This spiky looking balls contains one of the most pungent fruits known on Earth, like a mix between sweat and rotting flesh. With a texture similar to that of a custard, durian can either be bitter or sweet depending on where it was grown. Since the smell can even stay on your fingers for days, your disgruntled grandfather will be too busy trying not to vomit instead of telling you about his thoughts on the younger generations.
Main Course Alternative - Surströmming
Being the definitive main course at Thanksgiving, many think turkey is the reason you might get drowsy after the big meal. Although this is untrue, what if we were to replace it with something that actually could knock you out even before the meal began? That’s where surströmming comes in. This fermented herring is so infamously smelly that it has to be eaten outside. Not only that, the pressurized cans must be opened underwater to avoid the contents exploding everywhere. But if you can hold your nose and somehow stomach the taste of briney, rotting fish, you might be able to silence your uncle who keeps asking about your life goals.
With these substitutes, you’ll never have to listen to a politically charged discussion at Thanksgiving ever again. However, you may have the side effect of your family never speaking to you for the rest of your life, but you’ll have to decide if it is worth the risk. And while they might not all be deadly, these dishes offer some unique tastes and challenges for the palate. So would you try any of these? Have you actually tasted one? What about another food item you’d like to share? Comment below!