In college, my friends started Fakesgiving—a night to celebrate Thanksgiving together before everyone went home for the holidays. Our school is on the quarter system and winter break is from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. That’s a month and a half of break and since my college is known for it’s international student population, my friends went home to all corners of the world.
So, one night during finals week, a group of us brought different items from a traditional Thanksgiving menu and we all celebrated the end of the quarter and an early Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve and Day.
Fakesgiving became a collegiate institution. But I’ve since graduated and the painful reality of being a post grad this year is not the economy, it’s the absence of Fakesgiving.
I mentioned Fakesgiving in passing to a friend a couple of weeks ago and he loved the idea. Maybe Fakesgiving didn’t have to die? Maybe it’s something I can continue to share with new friends. We decided we would continue the Fakesgiving tradition with one catch: he’s vegetarian.
Vegan Thanksgiving Menu:
How hard could it be? It’s just a bunch of sides strung together as a menu.
Wrong. Vegan Cooking Rule #1: Don’t underestimate the importance of vegetable dishes.
Some of these dishes took as much time as a turkey to prepare and bake. It was worth it, but we didn’t end up eating until midnight. In the future, I know to go into vegan cooking with an attitude adjustment. It’s not just a bunch of sides. And vegan recipes aren’t as forgiving. There’s no butter to enhance or…gloss over mistakes.
But with a lot of help (We had to enlist a mutual friend for backup. He had no idea what he was getting into. I just texted him saying, “Hope you’re hungry!”) we pulled it off. The interesting thing about this menu is that there is no turkey to steal the show. That’s obvious, but it completely changes the dynamic of a Thanksgiving menu. Each recipe complements the next. I paid more attention to the sides.
At first, I was reluctant to make cranberry sauce. Where would it go? What’s it supposed to go with?
I watched in horror as a friend put a dollop of cranberry sauce over the potatoes like it was ice cream on cake. Say what? But I tried it. And it was delicious. I’m not about to stick a French fry in a Frosty, but potatoes and cranberries taste amazing together.
This was not the Fakesgivings of my past. But I’m glad I didn’t give up on Fakesgiving. I learned a lot about cooking from this one. And my friends and I have decided that we’re going to get together and make vegan recipes once a week now.
I think we’ll go with something less ambitious next week.