Below is a recollection of my first experience of Thanksgiving in the South from 2 years ago.
I arrived to Mobile Regional Airport on the Wednesday evening. I had taken a connecting flight from Toronto to Chicago. It was late, after 11pm and I was waiting for my sister to arrive. She’s actually my best friend but we consider one another sisters.
She arrives and Doug (her now husband) arrives and picks us up. “Babe, did you get it?” Doug chuckled, “Nah babe I didn’t.” “But whyyyy?” Nakita asks. Doug chuckled again and handed Nakita a bag, it smelt like fried goods. “Vee, you’re going to love this.” She takes out a foam container and hands me the rest in the back. Whatever it was, it smelt delicious honestly. “Is this…?” I start asking if this is the famous food Nakita is always raving about upon her return from Mobile, I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant. “Foosacklys? Yes!” Nakita answers.
Foosackly’s. A chain restaurant in Coastal Alabama and Northwest Florida. There’s no way to really describe Foosackly’s other than simply delicious – the best chicken tenders you will ever have, ever and a dipping sauce out of this world. So basically, in a typical order you get chicken tenders, crinkle cut fries (fried perfectly, nice and crispy) and a slice of buttered toast, sourdough toast, but not truly, a more milder taste. Me being from Canada (and one that tries to watch my waistline but always fails) was not used to all these carbs on one plate but did I love it? Yes! It was soo good. The dipping sauce – foo sauce, I asked Doug what flavors I should use to describe this sauce, he says it would be an insult to describe it in just flavors as opposed to how it plays a part in elevating the most basic of dishes – fried chicken strips, fries and the toast (DUH!!)
This is just night one in the South, the next day was Thanksgiving. I think this was my first time experiencing the American Thanksgiving. But to be in the South, with all the flavor and home cooking?! I was overjoyed, and my in laws did not disappoint!
We tried not to spoil our appetite on Thanksgiving, I believe we started at around 2 pm. Doug’s mother is Ms. Ella. She is the head chef in this Mobile home, and she really puts her heart in her cooking! I don’t eat pork so unfortunately there were some items I did not partake in. But, my first go round consisted of: dressing, macaroni + cheese, turkey, collard greens, and candied yams. Whew!
What I noticed in the South (or is this an American cuisine thing?) was, that a lot of things were made from scratch. For example, in Canada, many don’t follow traditional ‘North American’ style dinners for Holidays due to the fact that many of us (like myself) are from immigrant families. For example, my family is from Jamaica, we don’t even have a holiday for Thanksgiving. It would be out of the ordinary for us to cook a turkey. However, for special occasions, or a simple Sunday dinner, we will cook oxtail with rice + peas or curry goat.
So when my family celebrates Thanksgiving in Canada (or the US) these are the items we cook, and if we do cook a turkey, the dressing (we call it stuffing) will be from a box. I don’t want to generalize and say everyone does this, but if I cook oxtail (which takes forever) and a turkey, lasagna, macaroni salad, salmon etc., I’m not making dressing from scratch! That is coming from the box!
So, as I was saying, during my time in Mobile, at Thanksgiving dinner, I did notice a lot of items were handmade. So my plate consisted of Ms. Ella’s dressing. I fell in love with it. In fact I had a 2nd and 3rd helping of this dressing, I ate it the next day and the day after that! I loved Ms. Ella’s dressing! The turkey was juicy and delicious, with a side of cranberry of course. And the macaroni + cheese, perfection! This is something I have yet to master myself but honestly, the ratio of cheese to macaroni was spot on.
The candied yams. I believe Doug made those. Who thought of adding brown sugar and cinnamon to sweet potatoes? Genius. Melt in your mouth delicious! And I decided to balance this hearty meal with some greens of course! Collard greens, just simply delicious, cooked to perfection, not over cooked but a perfect side to your Thanksgiving meal. I had a roll as well, I fell in love with this also (I have a love hate relationship with bread). The roll was just buttery, melt in your mouth, soft, just perfectly good.
Ready for dessert? Home made pecan and sweet potato pie? Stay tuned for my Thanksgiving in the South Part III, where I recant my experience of this year’s Thanksgiving in Mobile, AL.