Give Thanks, But Make It Extra

This holiday season, Food & Wine is going over the top with a celebration of all things opulent, glittering, rich, delicious, and joyful.
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For the longest time, one of my go-to interview questions was, "What's the one thing that absolutely has to be at your table to make it a holiday?" Prior to 2020, it was almost guaranteed that the chef or celebrity or whomever would launch into a reverie about their aunt's legendary casserole, a soliloquy on cranberry can ridges, or a near-religious recitation of pies. Thanksgiving, though notionally tied to a "traditional" menu of turkey and sides (sing it with me: stuffing/dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, pie) is actually a deeply personalized holiday, with a meld of regional recipes, handed-down family dishes, and random whims that some guest had one year and ended up becoming canon. Families and friends and stranger cross-pollinate, and something new and delicious blooms and by God, it's beautiful.

I counted on the answer to be a dish, a drink, or possibly, a quirky piece of tableware that bore the weight of a really good story. It was as consistent as clockwork: Ask question, get juicy anecdote. 

And then time stopped. 

Last year's Thanksgiving felt almost like a cruel joke. Thanks for what, exactly? The thing that makes a holiday table is the people around it. In isolation, the very notion of gathering, generous portions, or celebration of the circumstances felt alien and almost profane. None of this was what we wanted or needed, and even if we could assemble without fear, it would just just shine a wan light on the absence of the cousin who took her yam recipe to her grave, or the meager portions afforded by economic struggles or supply chain strain. You could hardly blame someone for wanting to just bolt down some cereal in their sweatpants and pass out on the couch watching Netflix. 

This year, we're making up for it with extra helpings of EVERYTHING. Not that we don't need to be mindful of one another's wellbeing—quite the opposite, and that stuff should be rote by now. What we owe to ourselves and one another is acknowledgment of the fact that despite it all, we're still freaking here, and that we get to huzzah and holler about it. This is not a time for restraint, and it certainly doesn't mean that said festivities need to cost a lot. A rhinestone sparkles just as brightly as a diamond, and they can be in greater abundance. A cork popping off a prosecco bottle is as whoooooooooo! a sound as a vintage Champagne, so we might as well get loud.

My colleagues and I have assembled a spread of the dishes and objects and even outfits that make us feel at most sparkling, both inside and out. These are the ways we have always celebrated the season, but with an extra layer of opulence to make up for last year's deprivation. It matters so damn much that we can commune again, because at least for me, my soul has been even hungrier than my stomach. Like millions of you, I'm one of those people who lost someone to this pandemic. My mom, Dottie, devout and abstemious to the point that she considered becoming a nun, was never really one for dazzle and fanfare, and definitely not for cooking. But it pleased her tremendously to light the candles and lay the settings for the people she loved, and even she was known to roll out the holiday tablecloth and bust out her wedding china and gravy boat for its once-a-year sail around the table. And I can with no difficulty (if still some pangs) close my eyes and picture her smiling as she sat down to lunch the next day, a plate heaped with cold leftovers. Because she knew it was important to always make extra.—Kat Kinsman

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Thanksgiving Gravy Fountain
Credit: Photo by Noah Fecks / Food Styling by Drew Aichele / Prop Styling by Ethan Lunkenheimer / Set Construction by Johnny Figueroa / Floral Design by Chelsea Olayos

Senior Editor Kat Kinsman has known the pleasures of a gravy fountain, and invites you to meet her in her bliss. And yes, there are some handy tricks to making it work, but don't you deserve your own personal gravy Versailles? Read More.

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Chipotle-Spiced Smoked Turkey Legs
Credit: Photo by Noah Fecks / Food Styling by Drew Aichele / Prop Styling by Ethan Lunkenheimer

A whole bird is great, but it gets pretty flapping tedious, and that's not what we're about this year. Staff Writer Bridget Hallinan believes you should embrace the opportunity for opulence (and maybe a bit of well-earned greed) and opt for tender, mahogany-colored Chipotle-Spiced Smoked Turkey Legs that are endlessly batchable, and make a perfectly generous portion, fit for an emperor—or at least a Disneyland guest. Read More.

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Citrus-Champagne Punch for Thanksgiving Recipe Gallery
Credit: Photo by Noah Fecks / Food Styling by Drew Aichele / Prop Styling by Ethan Lunkenheimer / Set Construction by Johnny Figueroa

Staff Writer Bridget Hallinan suspected that most of us might be out of practice with menus and recipes fit for a fabulous crowd, or even the idea of preparing a dish that isn't just the standard stay-at-home fare of the stuff-on-toast or haphazard meals we're so burned out on making. She's got recipes galore for indulgences like Crab Pithivier with Scallop Frangipane, Creamy Swiss Chard Gratin with Crispy Gnocchi, Cornmeal Cake Trifle with Sabayon and Candied Kumquats that may just become your new holiday staples. You're totally worth it. Read More.

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Credit: Photo by Noah Fecks / Food Styling by Drew Aichele / Prop Styling by Ethan Lunkenheimer

Social Media Editor Nikki Miller-Ka is a legendary hostess and she'll go out of her way to make you feel warmly welcomed and lavishly fed when you're her guest. But don't you dare show up with a dish full of mac 'n' cheese without her say-so. That's a sacred dish, and in her words, you must prove your worth and be "anointed" to bring it to the table. Read More.

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Cranberry-Orange Sparkling Wine Gelatin
Credit: Photo by Noah Fecks / Food Styling by Drew Aichele / Prop Styling by Ethan Lunkenheimer

This dazzling gelatin mold won't be the only thing that's wobbling after you have a generous serving. It's crafted with three different kinds of alcohol, and the tremble of joy in Senior Food Editor Mary Frances Heck's voice when she chronicles its pleasure is even higher proof that it deserves centerpiece status on your table. Read More.

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Credit: Photo by Noah Fecks / Food Styling by Drew Aichele / Prop Styling by Ethan Lunkenheimer

Editor-in-Chief Hunter Lewis toiled in professional kitchens for a good chunk of his adult life, but found himself freezing at the notion of trying to replicate his grandmother's holy gravy. "Gravy can smell fear," he says, and after he absolutely succumbed to it one year in the company of his in-laws, he vowed to get over it. Now the man is a gravy master, and he's spilled his secrets. Read More.

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Oyster Casserole with Cracker Crumbs
Credit: Photo by Noah Fecks / Food Styling by Drew Aichele / Prop Styling by Ethan Lunkenheimer

Senior Editor Maria Yagoda grew up assuming that everyone celebrated the holiday with a luxe, luscious stuffing featuring canned oysters and buttery crumbled Ritz crackers like her family did. Imagine her shock when she discovered that most of us have been cruelly deprived of this particular pleasure—and what its origins are. Read More.

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Thanksgiving Spread featuring Tabletop Items
Credit: Photo by Noah Fecks / Food Styling by Drew Aichele / Prop Styling by Ethan Lunkenheimer / Set Construction by Johnny Figueroa

Ecommerce Editor Megan Soll eternally awes us with her excellent taste, so who better to turn to for advice to create a over-the-top table? If it glitters, shimmers, or just plain delights, she's got you covered, from coasters and candlesticks to serving vessels, utensils, and dishware that make our knees quake with desire. Read More.

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Thanksgiving Caftans
Sai Sankoh Blue Jezebel Goddess Kaftan (L) and fringe + co. Black and Gold Sequin Long Caftan (R). | Credit: Photo by Noah Fecks / Food Styling by Drew Aichele / Prop Styling by Ethan Lunkenheimer / Set Construction by Johnny Figueroa / Hair by Angelica Sundae / Makeup by Matthew Drohan

Senior Editor Kat Kinsman grew up idolizing Auntie Mame, Bewitched's Endora, and Jan Brady's Aunt Jenny and came to realize in adulthood that all these style icons embraced the caftan. Visuals Editor Sarah Crowder and photographer Noah Fecks brought her wildest dreams to life with an homage to the most stunning, and stealthily comfortable garment known to humankind. Read More.

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Giving Extra

We're incredibly lucky to get to do what we do for a living, and are grateful for a chance to give back to those who could use a little love. Visuals Editor Sarah Crowder asked the F&W to shine a light on a few of our favorite organizations and charities in case you have some extra to share this year.

Related Content

  • The Farm Aid Hotline is a great place to give. The mental health crisis in the agriculture community is staggering, and we all benefit from their labor. - Kat Kinsman, Senior Editor

    Donate
    The Farm Aid Hotline
  • This year, I'm donating to Heart of Dinner to help provide food to elders within the NYC AAPI community so that they can sit and enjoy a meal with their loved ones. - Jenna Brillhart, Creative Director

    Donate
    Heart of Dinner
  • ??This Thanksgiving, I'll be giving money to RAICES, which provides free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees. - Maria Yagoda, Senior Editor

    Donate
    RAICES
  • I'm a longtime supporter of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, I fully endorse their mission statement of helping LGBTQIA+ youth in NYC. I love what they do, and how they go about it.- Noah Fecks, Photographer and Director

    Donate
    The Hetrick-Martin Institute
  • This holiday season I'm giving to Hour Children, an organization that provides services to women and children impacted by incarceration. - Sarah Crowder, Visuals Editor

    Donate
    Hour Children
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Text-based image with credit information, including: Photography and Video by Noah Fecks. Production Design by Ethan Lunkenheimer. Production Management by Justin Skrakowski. Set Construction by Johnny Figueroa. Assistant Prop Styling by Lizzie Rosin. Floral Design by Chelsea Olayos. Food Styling by Drew Aichele. Assistant Food Styling by Kelly Kubala. Hair by Angelica Sundae. Makeup by Matthew Drohan. Photo Assistance by Jacob Grumulatis and Noah Conte. Models Evelyn De Luna, Monica Henry, and Yuri Mori
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