Once again Thanksgiving is the focal point of the New York Times Food section. This week though, focuses on table manners. Both, surprisingly are vital to the season. Good manners will take you anywhere while leftovers will take you through the weekend and into the work week.
Times regular contributor Kim Severson got to sit through a formal dinner in Hartsville South Carolina's high school, in particular in teacher's Wardie Sanders' history class. Here they're properly instructed in the fine art of what knives to use and how to use a napkin. It's throwback to Emily Post's days of fine etiquette and proper behavior when eating at a formal or holiday table. While teens and adults may balk at these little quirks, there a reasons behind them, dating s far back as the Middle Ages. We chew with our mouths closed because we don't want to gross out those around us. Napkins are placed on the lap to protect clothing and the chair.Placing a knife to the right with the blade facing the plate is a throwback to when people brought their own knives to a table.If a fight broke out it was then easy to grab your weapon and fight.Of course the biggest etiquette bugaboo is the ever present cell phone. No,it shouldn't take top priority while eating but are allowed when backing up a fact or question. They can also be used for Face Time for a relative or friend who couldn't make it.However good manners also extends to making eye contact with those around you and engaging them in conversation.In other words, nix the technology just until dessert is over.
Of course, it's a free for all the next day. Formality is shed as leftovers come out. David Tanis gives many different recipes for what to do with the bird and sides.He plays with a classic chicken ala king subbing in turkey in a creamy gravy on top of sweet potato biscuits. Another idea is a meat pie. He chooses the more flavorful dark meat, mashed potatoes along with roasted squash and chard for a yummy spin on shepherd's pie. American cheddar is added for some zing . He suggests these but you may want to try other variations, like white meat and leftover peas and corn.Use store bought puff pastry if you're too tired to make a scratch dough. You can serve the finished pie or torta Americana with leftover gravy or a side of cranberry jelly. It could also just be served with a simple salad if you want lighter fare. Turkey can also be pulled and this can be stuffed into a pita along with cabbage, cucumbers and tahini dressing for a more refreshing rehash of leftovers.Of course home chefs could fall back on the traditional second day dishes such as turkey tetrazzini and turkey fried rice.
Save this issue as you;ve saved the other two special Thanksgiving issues. Table manners are always good to have in this holiday season. They ill elevate and civilize you. Leftovers are also good to have, simply because they can let you go wild making all sorts of dishes - and eating them without a care for manners and civility.