Two years ago I followed my best friend to Mobile, Alabama as she visited her then boyfriend Doug for the American Thanksgiving. I captured my experience Thanksgiving in the South Part II. But first, my now brother Doug, wrote a pretty profound piece on his view of Thanksgiving in the South. Doug is an upcoming rapper, you can listen to his music here. Doug is also part of a music collective, the newest release of music is by singer/songwriter Indyah Rashaud. You can listen to her latest single Multitude here.
The following was written by Douglas James:
The Thanksgiving tradition in the South is truly a family affair. There are regional, local, and family traditions all over the South specifically that make this one of the most interesting celebrations of the year… also, it can be a chore. I can only speak for my mom, “Mom-uh”, Mrs. Ella James. She was the granddaughter of a freed Slave, and that brings a certain wisdom when it comes to collecting, preparing, and serving Thanksgiving without it being an overwhelming path.
By October, she already has non perishables such as any dried beans she will prepare, macaroni for her legendary oven baked mac-n-cheese, any ham, or turkey she will be preparing she will have bought it before the month of November. She also ensures sugar for her pies, cakes, etc will be in the pantry in addition to stocking up on butter. Anything that can be caught on sale and stored via pantry or freezer (without degradation to quality) she normally has at least 2 weeks in advance.
About 2 weeks before Thanksgiving is when she gets her greens. Normally collards, with a small batch of turnips just for me… she picks them (when you remove the excess stem), washes them, cuts them, then washes them again. Greens are from the earth, sits just a few inches off the ground are gritty like your car after a beach day. Seems like a really easy process just reading this, but it’s not. A 40 gallon trash-bag filled with collards cooks down just enough to feed her 8 kids, the grandkids, the great grands, the cousins, the friends, and visitors who always make their way to our house.
Let’s say she buys the greens today, she will pick them tomorrow and wash them, cut them the day after that and wash them again. She finally cooks them down, bag them up, and throws them in the freezer.
The night before Thanksgiving, any meat will be cooking. We prefer smoked turkeys, because Alabama and BBQ are a thing. Even if you buy your turkey smoked, you can definitely just slide it in the oven beside the ham to just slowly cook and roast in those flavors. candied yams are a day or 2 before. Come to think of it the only things we cook on the day of thanksgiving is rice, gravy, macaroni and cheese, and we always fry some chicken for the picky kids, who ate too many sweets early in the day. My mom says a hungry child will always cause problems…
Stay tuned for Thanksgiving in the South Part II.