Thanksgiving is my favourite food holiday. Because it is essentially the only food holiday in my life. When I was growing up, my family celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter with big meals that all looked to Thanksgiving: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing. The only things subject to variation were vegetables (actually rarely varied), salads, and dessert. Dinner with my mom’s family meant we would also have perogies and cabbage rolls care of my Ukrainian grandma. Someone might have also done a ham at Easter, but otherwise, we knew what we liked and what to expect.
We ate meals with both sides of my family, so I was guaranteed six “Thanksgiving” meals per year. The result is that I am a big fan of the typical holiday food. I do not even care if the turkey is dry, the pumpkin pie gelatinous, or the green beans overcooked. Nostalgia. Memories. Tradition. This is not the meal I need anyone to look to Food & Wine for. I just want to feel like maybe one of my grandmas was in the kitchen, either the one who used too much butter in her mash or the one who used none at all. Nothing fancy, just food full of love.
And even though I always say I do not like leftovers, I know there is nothing quite like a day-after turkey sandwich. For the past three years, Parm has been making a very good riff on this beloved holiday staple with their Thanksgiving hero. It has morphed a bit since the first time I had it, but it still contains the holiday standards.
Hot turkey, sausage stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mayo all on a fresh semolina hero roll. Parm has some of the best roasted turkey in the city, so it is a treat just to have that. It is white meat, but it is the juiciest I have ever had. The first time I had the sandwich, a schmear of butternut squash and fried sage leaves were also included. I did miss these this year, but the loss was comforted by the new addition of a side of house gravy for dipping or spreading.
It is very close to being the leftover sandwich of my dreams. The stuffing is sufficiently seasoned and spiced, the cranberry not too sweet, and the roll soft enough to squish for a bite, yet substantial enough that it does not turn to mush when gravy is liberally applied (a bit heftier than the one at Roberta’s). Which, of course, must be done. It is not outstanding gravy, but like at a family meal, it gets the job done and reminds you again of the fabulous food holiday that is Thanksgiving.
I have possibly come to love Thanksgiving food even more since moving to the U.S. In Canada, Thanksgiving is suddenly upon you. September is for mourning summer, and then with the calendar change to October, you are suddenly receiving emails about who is hosting and what to bring. The day after marks the change to Halloween, and then November 1 marks the switch to Christmas. Down here, October is for Halloween, December is for Christmas, and the whole long month of November is for Thanksgiving preparation and specials. I am all over the fact that restaurants push the turkey and pumpkin all month. Even if I make my own leftover sandwich on Black Friday, I am left with wanting this one again. But if I do not get the chance, thank god I can get a regular turkey sandwich there the other 11 months of the year.