The Thanksgiving Meal: To Tweak or Not To Tweak

That sense of an idealized, convivial feast is what I got from last year’s La Panarda celebration at Le Virtú. Running nearly ten hours while sporting 40 courses it was, I told chef Joe Cicala, everything I wished Thanksgiving was.

“It doesn’t have the same roots,” he says, “but, I know what you mean,” he says, laughing. “For something similar [to Thanksgiving], you’d want the festival San Martino—or The Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Festival in France.

As for his family’s Italian-American feast, he says it runs all day with visits from relatives giving cause for intermittent eating. “You see everyone in the family,” which also means, eating with everyone in the family.

As for the meal, he says it’s more or less traditional before mentioning a sausage polenta stuffing, along with the mandatory inclusion of either a timballo or lasagna.

Pom seeds, fennel fronds, and fennel bulb salad inspired by Cicala's cold turkey dish.

Pom seeds, fennel fronds, and fennel bulb salad inspired by Cicala’s cold turkey dish.

And there’s even an Italian twist given to the leftovers.

The next day, they’ll do a cold turkey appetizer garnished with pomegranate seeds that approximates the acidity of cranberry sauce, the dish echoing the Abruzzese dish tacchino all canzanese, which features cold turkey in aspic.

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