What is the best way to gather friends and family to spend time together celebrating the joys of life? Obviously, it’s a feast! They began all the way at the beginning of the Bible and are still a common event today. From the lavish spreads of appetizers, entrees, side dishes and desserts to the sound of laughter spewing from your crazy uncle, a feast is a fantastic way to entertain the ones you love and enjoy great food.
One of the most common feasts that most of us Mustangs participate in is Thanksgiving. Other feasts some enjoy are Christmas dinner, Passover Seder, and for some cultures, every meal is a feast! So put down that remote and silence that Blackberry, cause it’s time to spice up that feast!
Let’s start with Thanksgiving. In my opinion, the best way to put on a Thanksgiving feast would be to put out as much food as possible and test your guests’ stomachs on how much they can eat. I’m just kidding, although that would be funny to try. But I am serious about putting out a lot of food.
We all know there’s the usual turkey, stuffing, yams and pumpkin pie. For an extra kick, my dad cuts up russet potatoes and onions and cooks them with the turkey so they absorb all the great flavors (but he does not add them until near the end, as we all know turkeys take a long time to cook).
For a delicious take on yams or sweet potatos, mash them in a pan then cover them with marshmallows, and I bet every kid at the table will be fighting for them. Another new idea could be to make a trifle, which is a customary British dessert. It involves different layers like pumpkin pie custard, sponge cake, whipped cream and anything else you want in it.
Moving along to decking the halls, we have the Christmas dinner. Since I am Jewish and spend my Christmas day at the movies and eating Chinese food, my knowledge of this is limited. I know there is a ham or a turkey as the main course, but from talking to some friends about this, I gather there is no standard food for a Christmas feast.
So to spice it up a bit and celebrate it like the Chinese and the Jews, take out that wok and those chopsticks and make an Asian feast. Whip up some sweet and sour chicken on a bed of chow mein or fried rice with some fried wantons on the side. To be even more adventurous, go Thai! Try making your favorite curry along with pad Thai (similar to chow mein) or crispy basil chicken. It may not be traditional, but you may like it so much that it becomes the new tradition.
Wrapping it up with the feast with no yeast is my favorite one of all — Passover. Common foods at my family’s Passover Seder include brisket, potatoes and onions cooked into the juices of the meat (same as Thanksgiving), matzo ball soup, matzo and the perks of the Seder plate.
The Seder plate consists of bitter herbs (usually horseradish), Charoset (basically chopped nuts and apples with wine and cinnamon), Karpas (usually parsley), a shank bone from a lamb or chicken and a hard boiled egg. These do sound weird if you are not Jewish but they all play into telling the story of how the Jews escaped from Egypt.
To turn that plain matzo into a fun dessert, dip it into Kosher for Passover chocolate. If your normal brisket recipe involves a ketchup-based marinade, try pouring a bottle of Manischewitz (Jewish wine) over it or vice versa.
No matter the occasion of the feast, it is a great way to bring the ones you love together. If you were looking for a way to spice up a common feast, I hope these ideas help, and if you enjoy the traditional feast, that’s great too! Remember that there doesn’t need to be a special occasion to have one, so the next time you cannot think of what to do with your friends, throw a feast. You know they will love it, because who doesn’t like food? Better yet, it’s great to test out your culinary skills by using your friends as guinea pigs.