IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

What's more important: Thanksgiving turkey or the sides?

Ah, Thanksgiving. That special time of the year when your fork works overtime, shifting between the gravy-soaked stuffing and the pecan pie. Of course, the turkey has generally been the prize possession of this American feast, but in a great debate in the New York Times, two food-lovers ponder what really makes the meal: the bird — or the sides? In the corner for team turkey, writer Kim Sev

Ah, Thanksgiving. That special time of the year when your fork works overtime, shifting between the gravy-soaked stuffing and the pecan pie. Of course, the turkey has generally been the prize possession of this American feast, but in a great debate in the New York Times, two food-lovers ponder what really makes the meal: the bird — or the sides? In the corner for team turkey, writer Kim Severson states: “Norman Rockwell didn’t spend all that time painting pans of sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce, did he? No. He painted turkeys. From turkey comes stock, the flavor-giving fluid that pumps through the entire meal. Good gravy depends on good stock. So does stuffing.” It’s hard to question the artistic sensibilities of Rockwell, but maybe he was never exposed to a perfectly creamy sweet potato pie (made with marshmallow fluff)? It’s true a lot can depend on the turkey stock, but there are also plenty of substitutes to make for completely meat-free dishes. It’s not as if all good meals need some help from the birds, right? Writer Julia Moskin, in an argument for side dishes, takes a stab at turkey-loving logic: “If roast turkey is so good,” I said innocently as we ate pumpkin whoopie pies, “I wonder why we don’t we make it at other times?” You’d think people would serve it at dinner parties, I suggested, embroidering the theme: bohemian-chic restaurants in San Francisco and tongue-in-cheek chefs in Paris would reinterpret it. As yet, none of those things has come to pass.” NYTimes.com Well blog writer Tara Parker-Pope also makes the case for those delicious and savory supporting characters, not out of turkey-bashing — but in appreciation of often neglected greens and starches. That Thanksgiving, whether you’re vegetarian or not, seems like the ideal time to celebrate vegetables: “The Thanksgiving table is crowded with creative side dishes that include stuffing, vegetable-and-rice combos, green bean or squash casseroles, and fall favorites like pumpkin and sweet potatoes. Given the variety of delicious side dishes served this time of year, some diners, including myself, eschew the turkey altogether. Most turkey does not taste all that special anyway, and I would rather fill up on the good stuff.” What do you think? What really makes for a delicious Thanksgiving meal? And if you had to choose between ditching the bird or the sides, which would make the cut? Related:Get the recipes from the New York Times