One year at Thanksgiving dinner, my sweet grandmother, who had slaved all day in the kitchen to make my worthless ass this wonderful meal, asked me how I liked her squash casserole, squishy summer squash drowned in a gamey sour cream sauce. “It’s great!” I said falsely, beaming at her. She ended up making that same casserole, simply because I loved it so much, every subsequent year, and always gave me double and triple helpings with a big smile and a wink.

Your personal Thanksgiving bête noire is probably something else. Dry turkey? Instant mashed potatoes? Rancid prepackaged stuffing? Cranberry sauce that plops onto your plate in the shape of the can? Or something even more sinister, like the following terrible, traditional Thanksgiving dishes:

Ambrosia salad: Some people may never even have heard of this foul concoction. Consider yourself lucky. Ambrosia salad recipes vary, but most combine canned fruit, coconut, and mini marshmallows with either mayonnaise or sour cream, and sometimes even Cool Whip and Jell-O. It tastes like a sickeningly sweet puff of fruit-flavored nondairy something, with some dried toenail clippings thrown in for flavor.

Sweet potatoes with marshmallows: Funny thing about sweet potatoes. They’re sweet. They do not need a gluey, fake-vanilla-tasting layer of sticky marshmallows on top of them and a whole lot of sugar.

Jell-O salad: Be it orange or red or green, with carrots or marshmallows or mayo or bananas or things that are even worse, wake up, Grandma. Nobody likes it.

Giblet gravy: Hey, do you know what giblets are? They’re all packaged up so nicely inside the bird that you might not think about it, but it’s the liver, heart, and other viscera of the turkey. The drippings from the turkey pan are starting to look mighty good to me right about now.

Anything weird that you do to mashed potatoes: Provided you don’t food-process them into gluey oblivion, mashed potatoes are perfect as is. Don’t screw with them. Under no circumstances are you to add turnips, parsnips, carrots, or rutabagas, and for God’s sake no beets. No garlic. No chipotles. No low-fat anything. No weird freaking spices, no, we don’t want Indian mashed potatoes. Nothing weird. We want our regular high-fat mashed potatoes, and we want them now.

Ambrosia image source: Flickr member Rochelle, et. al. under Creative Commons
Sweet potato image source: Flickr member David Boyle under Creative Commons

Jell-O salad image source: Flickr member Ardent Eye under Creative Commons
Giblet gravy image source: Flickr member Martin Bowling under Creative Commons
Mashed beets image source: Flickr member maureen lunn under Creative Commons

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