Saturday, November 19, 2016

Pies and Conversation for a Post-Election Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Pies 2016 | Nothing in the House

On the night of the election, I finished glazing an Election Cake I had made for the occasion. It sat, shiny and enticing, on a cake stand on my kitchen counter while friends started to arrive to watch the returns. Anxious but hopeful, we sipped wine, ate snacks, and made jokes to ease our nerves. As the numbers came in and more and more states turned red, though, we could no longer bring ourselves to eat. We sat, mouths agape, starting at the TV screen, our phones, and the little meter on the New York Times page. For days after, that Election Cake sat on my counter, untouched. I couldn't bear to even slice it. It somehow became an embodiment of my post-election emotions-- sadness, anger, fear -- until I finally threw it out a few days ago. I still have those emotions, but am moving forward, trying to apply them towards positive actions-- digging back into work, calling my representatives, donating what I can to organizations I believe in, going through a checklist of things to take care of before January 20th, attending meetings with local civil rights groups, informing myself on other perspectives, strategizing.

I'm very ready for some time with my family over Thanksgiving, but I also know that many of friends and peers are worried about the trip home. At this moment of hostility and violent outbreaks towards wide swaths of the population, it can feel uncomfortable and scary to be in an unwelcome environment-- whether that's amongst familly members who may have voted for the president-elect, or just being in communities with high levels of Trump support. The thought of sitting down at the table,  actually enjoying a big meal, and avoiding any politics can seem impossible. 

But having these hard conversations are important. Talking with people we disagree with, especially if they're a loved one, is one powerful way that we can buck the divisiveness that this election and incoming administration has wrought. This isn't about party politics. This is about connecting with people we care about, listening, being respectful, asking questions, and calmly voicing where we stand and why. Easier said than done, I know. But there are some great toolkits out there that offer information and support for how best to approach this. I highly recommend this thorough handbook composed by the folks who created the Oh Crap! What Now? Survival Guide, along with Southern Poverty Law Center's "Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bigotry" for when you do encounter offensive language and actions. Bustle also has a good brief article focused on conversations with relatives. In addition, I recommend seeking insight from artists, writers, musicians, civil rights leaders, feminists, and faith leaders, particularly those who are experienced organizers, activists, and community strongholds. Audre Lorde's "The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism" and Ruby Sales' On Being interview "Where Does It Hurt" have been great sources of wisdom for me these past few days. 

If you do get to a hard spot in a conversation with a family or friend, take a break, go for a walk, eat more turkey, bake a pie, throw some darts, play loud guitar-- whatever it is you need to do to cope. Try not to think about what you could have said or how you could have said it better. Come back, tell the person you love them, and know that even the smallest opening towards understanding is valuable. And for those who have families who are on the same page, consider how you might direct that group energy. Have a family phone bank or email circle and contact your representatives while you eat leftovers. Look for post-Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities with organizations that support women, people of color, LGBTQIA folks, Muslims, and immigrants. Support local business (particularly those owned by any of the above populations). Share ideas and strategies. Whichever scenario you find yourself in, find little ways to counter hateful, divisive rhetoric.

One of the reasons I'm so drawn to pie, after all, is because it demands social gathering. A pie is a communal dish, meant to be sliced and shared, while sitting around a table with family and friends-- old or newly-made. At its core, pie is a community catalyst, humble, (generally) homemade, a vehicle for love. It can be employed as such, not just on Thanksgiving, but in community dinners, and potlucks, and church suppers throughout the year, throughout these four years, and beyond. In that spirit, here is the Nothing in the House annual Thanksgiving Pe Guide. This year, I'm leaning towards making a Cranberry Chess Pie, Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, and a Katherine Hepburn Brownie Pie with Speculoos and Bourbon, but I'm going to make a game-time decision. If you don't find quite what you're looking for, check out the Recipe Index, as well as past guides from 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012I'd love to hear about your Thanksgiving pies, and your dinner conversations too. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Pumpkin, Squash & Sweet Potato
Delicata Squash Pie
Drunken Pumpkin Bourbon Pie with Mascarpone Cream
One-Pie Pumpkin Pie
Sweet Potato Pie with Cornmeal Crust
Sweet Potato Sonker (pictured, bottom right)
Sweet Potato Speculoos Pie

Fall Fruits
Cranberry Chess Pie
Anna Gillen's Grape Pie (pictured, top right)
Pear Tarte Tatin
Persimmon Pie
Salted Butter Apple Galette

Chocolate & Nuts
Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie
Black Walnut Pie
Bourbon Ginger Pecan Pie
Cranberry Chocolate Chess Pie
Katherine Hepburn Brownie Pie (pictured, top left)
Pecan Pie with Brown Sugar

Custard & Cheese
Black Bottom Lemon Pie (pictured, bottom left)
Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie
Maple Bourbon Buttermilk Pie with Apple Syrup
Pumpkin-Ginger Cheesecake Pie
Salty Honey Pie

Beef Picadillo Pie with Mashed Potatoes
Pear, Gruyere & Caramelized Onion Hand Pies 
Pimento Cheese and Tomato PiePuff Pastry Hand Pies with Goat Cheese & Hot Pepper Jelly 
Swiss Chard & Goat Cheese Galette


Andrea said...

Thanks so much for these good thoughts on conversation and pie, Emily. I will be with a group of like-minded and anxious family and friends on the Oregon coast for Thanksgiving, and I'm hoping we come up with ideas for moving forward in dark times. I'm also in charge of the pies, and will be adding Katharine Hepburn's Brownie Pie to the repertoire this year. My father's side of the family has a strong brownie tradition and this will carry that on.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


emily said...

@Andrea, Glad to hear it! Thanksgiving on the Oregon coast sounds wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving!


Rachel Medanic said...

Delighted to see that others around me connect food with politics because any dessert truly is, yes, something to help us work on our sharing skills. Thank you for writing this, it inspires me to revisit my own blog- several months empty at this point.