Surviving Holiday Potlucks When You Don’t Control the Agenda
Lauren visited her in-laws for Thanksgiving. A participant in our Whole Kitchen cooking classes this fall, she was excited to share some of the new vegetable dishes we had made. Maybe the savory roasted squash dish instead of canned sweet potatoes topped with brown sugar and marshmallows? Or how about the “Braised Brussels Sprouts & Parsnips with Apples and Pecans?”
Despite her enthusiasm, the thought of change just didn’t appeal to her husband’s family, steeped in tradition, Texas style. Family members had a lot of sentimental attachment to the dishes that appear on many holiday tables. So instead of trying to recreate a menu that had been put on the table for the past 40 years, Lauren decided to weave in a healthier dish that could be the focus of her Thanksgiving meal.
Put in charge of the fruit salad, she replaced the traditional whipped cream concoction with an interesting combo of sliced apples and oranges, pomegranate seeds, feta cheese and toasted pecans served over a bed of greens with a light citrus dressing. With this salad and some turkey, Lauren had a healthy base for her meal. She could then add in small portions of other dishes, but didn’t have to rely on them for satisfaction and comfort.
Lesson learned: With a little effort, it is possible to respect long-standing family tradition while blending in some new ideas, just by taking control of what we contribute to the meal. And who knows? In a few years, those new dishes could become the new favorites.