Suggested TV pairings for your solo Thanksgiving feast

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A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Screenshot: YouTube (Other)

The current COVID-19-related recommendation against travel means that many of us will be having a solitary Thanksgiving this year. If you have the day off but nowhere to be, here are a few suggestions for comfort eating, drinking, and viewing. You might find that a solo holiday is a great time to follow your own particular appetites, wherever they may lead, and that your TV friends make excellent company.

Appetizer: Snack Mix and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Apple TV+ (free November 25-27). The Peanuts gang’s Thanksgiving dinner included jelly beans, pretzels, toast and butter, popcorn, and ice cream sundaes. This recipe from Chex cereal includes the popcorn and pretzels as a base, and you can feel free to add in jelly beans or cubes of toast (aka croutons) if you’re feeling fancy. The sweet-salty mix would go very nicely with a split of dry sparkling wine to kick off your festivities. And even if that’s all you “cook” for the holiday, you’re following in the footsteps of a group of kids who managed to slip out of family obligations and enjoy a holiday in their own unique way.



Plan A: Shibboleth Sandwiches and The West Wing

Shibboleth,” Netflix. We’re living in an era of hard choices. In this West Wing episode, press secretary C.J. Cregg has to make a challenging choice of her own, pre-pandemic style: she must decide which of two turkeys (whom she names Eric and Troy) is more Presidential-pardon-worthy. Your choice of entree might be an equally tough decision, so we suggest a double decker sandwich of your two favorite fillings, whether veggie or meat. (Name one deck Eric, one deck Troy.) And whatever you’re drinking, make it a double. We love the idea of brown liquor and a satisfying made-just-the-way-you-like-it sandwich. A neat glass of sweet ice tea is also great for sipping while watching.

Plan B: Moo Goo Gai Pan takeout and The Bob Newhart Show

Over the River and Through the Woods,” Retronewser. This Thanksgiving-themed episode of the original Bob Newhart Show, which originally aired in 1975, is still the show’s most famous. And after all these years, it turns out to be the perfect allegory for our isolated, imperfect times. Emily is out of town visiting her family, so Bob decides to skip the traditional Thanksgiving folderal and watch the William & Mary football game with his buddies. They end up getting drunk and ordering out for Chinese food. Inebriated Bob struggles with asking for “moo goo gai pan,” pronouncing it “moo goo goo goo.” Like Bob, you may be having a holiday unlike any you’ve ever experienced, but that’s okay, too. Order from your favorite spot, tip your delivery person generously, pour a glass of dry Riesling (unless you’ve already had too much from following along with Bob’s vodka-and-cider football drinking game) and fire up this episode to keep you company.

Dessert: Trifle and Friends

The One Where Ross Got High,” HBO Max. The ending to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is pumpkin pie. But as long as you’re on your own with the TV, why not take the opportunity to experiment? In this iconic Friends episode, Rachel’s Thanksgiving trifle includes layers of ladyfingers, jam, custard, raspberries, bananas, whipped cream—and beef sauteed with peas and onions. (It’s a result of a food magazine’s pages getting stuck together, resulting in the mistaken mash-up of English Trifle and Shepherd’s Pie). For the Friends gang, it was a funny Thanksgiving story. For you, it might be a way to while away the hours with a cooking challenge. Try a recipe that follows Rachel’s exactly or one that swaps out the beef for cookies, coconut, and candy. Either way, pair the trifle with a sweet dark sherry and enjoy your own Thanksgiving story. 

Midnight Snack: Rolls and Gilmore Girls, Chocolate Milk and Master of None

A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving,” Netflix and Thanksgiving,” Netflix. The best part of any Thanksgiving meal is the post-feast snack. Our suggestion is inspired by Gilmore Girls Lorelai and Rory, who successfully navigate a four-stop Thanksgiving crawl but then realize they still have room for rolls. Luke from the diner provides them with “just a little something for the walk home.” The drink is a nod to the Thanksgiving episode of Master of None, which follows the friendship of Dev and Denise through decade’s worth of shared Thanksgiving dinners. One year, Denise’s odious date (Instagram handle: @nipplesandtoes23) demands a postprandial glass of chocolate milk, demanding it to be mixed up “just the way you make it.” (Denise confesses later it’s the recipe on the back of the syrup bottle.) No need to deal with someone’s awful date today, so work toward pleasing yourself. Consider filling some rolls with turkey or tofurkey and serving with a glass of chocolate milk—made just the way you like it.