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[Flickr: Wally Hartshorn]

Marketers know that the big holidays have come and gone, and they're desperate to lure shoppers back to the malls and grocery stores. Christmas in July, I've always thought, is one of the least effective ad campaigns. When it's 100°F outside, the last memory I want to dwell upon is the past December, when I was sweating at the mall, wrestling mano-a-mano over the last Zhu Zhu pet in stock. However, Christmas in July seems to work, because I know some people who are already done with their holiday shopping by August.

Even more surprising to me are foodies who are planning their Thanksgiving menus in July. True confession: for a foodie, I'm not that fond of T-Day. My Greek stepmother is "in charge" of the holiday and because she is a teeny bit of a control freak (er, perfect hostess) I am not allowed to sully the table with my cooking.

This leaves me to navigate salad with bacon, spinach pie cooked with chicken broth, and potatoes oozing with animal fat. Plus, the whole "non-Greek stepchild" atmosphere can be pretty uncomfortable (cue theme music from My Big Fat Greek Wedding). I thought I'd found a brilliant excuse this year when a friend of mine invited me to her Thanksgiving feast, which has a substantial selection of veggie options.

My family, good Greeks that they are, were quite offended at my lack of consideration for their hospitality and ensured that a vegetarian meal would be cooked, just for me. I realized there was no hope of a reprieve and agreed to come.

I was presented with....

A bowl of undressed lettuce.

I had to laugh, and gamely eat it, because I realized that, from my father and stepmother's perspective that is all vegetarians eat: lettuce. They just couldn't fathom a meal without meat, particularly a traditional Greek Thanksgiving.

So it only seems fair I take up the challenge to show them that Thanksgiving can be vegetarian—and pay tribute to my fellow foodies, who dream of basting turkeys while they baste themselves in the sun—in July. And yes, for those who eat meat, you can easily substitute real turkey for my vegetarian option. Thanksgiving, in July or November, means something for everyone.

Get the Thanksgiving in July Salad recipe »

About the author: Mary Pagones, who you may know better as HeartofGlass around here, eats food, mostly plants, but still worries far too much what she is eating in New Jersey.

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