I romanticize Thanksgiving.
In my mind Thanksgiving is a crisp fall day where family gathers around, happy to be with one another, and share in a glorious day of cooking and eating together. I feel like I had such Thanksgivings as a child but when I think back on it, I was probably too young to notice any tension between adults and only ate my favorite things, shunning the oyster stuffing and other offerings I thought looked or smelled weird.
In reality this day is usually not everything we hoped it would be; too much family, or not enough. Guest’s palates don’t reflect your own and favorite dishes are missed or worse than that, the meal is a flop and nothing is good at all. Or even worse than that, everything is completely perfect but you are too tired from refining every last detail that you could care less about the meal and would much rather drink a glass of bourbon…I mean wine and go to bed.
Jenny Rosenstrach writes about it beautifully in her newest book How to Celebrate Everything. She gives it a name in fact: Empty Celebration Syndrome, which perfectly describes the feeling (especially at Thanksgiving) that something is, I don’t know…..missing.
This year, even though it will be just the four of us, I will try to make the dinner seem special and hopefully, unlike every other family dinner we have at 6pm on a Thursday night. I will make pumpkin pie even if Louisa and I are the only ones who will eat it. I think I will make little Cornish game hens instead of a big turkey, although it really doesn’t matter— Hiro devours the drumstick of any poultry—and I will make these spicy candied sweet potatoes for Armando (although maybe just half a recipe, these make a ton).
Tips for success
If you want to add this recipe to your Thanksgiving menu (which I highly encourage) here’s a few tips: The sweet potatoes can be slow roasted the day before and kept covered in the refrigerator. The lime syrup can also be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge overnight. When you are ready to eat, drizzle the syrup over the sweet potatoes and roast until caramelized and blistered in a few spots. Sprinkle with chives and salt and serve.