Dry turkey and mediocre side dishes are optimal

The Take Economy demands not just that you distinguish yourself with opinions that deviate from the median person, but that the manner in which your opinion deviates is immediately distinguishable from everyone else who is similarly deviating. This leaves us with a tendency to focus on what we don’t like – enjoying something is further evidence of the monoculture, while hate comes in a million shades of beige.

I bring this up because hating Thanksgiving foods, particularly turkey, oven-baked turkey, has been in vogue for years, and I’m sure stuffing is next. Everything is too dry, too bland, yada yada yada. It’s a boring take most often made by boring people. Not that such things usually matter to me, but in this case it does because Thanksgiving as a meal is not an epicurean holiday, it’s an attempt to solve a coordination game across families, friends, and geographies. When solving a coordination problem with so many players, with preferences and cost-constraints that make broadly amenable large-scale get-togethers increasingly difficult. Between navigating travel costs, sleeping arrangements, and the inevitable negative political externalities that some jackass in your family is going to pollute the familial air with, the last thing you have the resources to cope with is culinary coordination. So what do we do? We come up with a pseudo-national, heavily regional menu that we coordinate on, a$1.99 per pound Schelling point that’s a steal at thrice the price.

The turkey’s too dry? Drown it in gravy. The stuffing is too bland? Your aunt has hot sauce in her purse. Your cousin is explaining the vagaries of 18th century 2nd amendment judicial rulings? There’s a bottle of brown liquor quietly being shared on the porch this very minute that you can partake in for the price of nothing more than a pleading glance and keeping your politics to your self.

The food isn’t the point, but if you’re still feeling the pain of a sub-optimal meal, you can order Chinese with us later, and I’ll happily explain to you why you’re not just ordering the wrong dishes, you’re ordering off the wrong menu. Because I got food takes, just not when the meal isn’t about the food.

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