Thanksgiving is coming! Thanksgiving is coming!
And we're ready. We've scoured the magazines, tested recipes, and we're eager talk turkey, recommend dishes, and answer any Thanksgiving-related questions you might have.
We're kicking off our Thanksgiving coverage by looking at the trends in this year's crop of magazines. As in previous years, we've indexed every single one of the November Thanksgiving recipes from the magazines in our rotation. We'll share that list with you on Monday. There are some really exciting (and bizarre) dishes among the more than 250 recipes.
But today we're going to talk about trends.
As we pored through this year's Thanksgiving features, some clear trends emerged. To illustrate many of the trends in this year's T-Day recipes, we created word clouds, like the one above, which illustrate how frequently certain words popped up. You can click on all the word clouds to enlarge them, so you can take a closer look.
What's the general theme for this year? Well, for a lot of our magazines, the theme seemed to be, "Thanksgiving 2011: We're Just Not That Into You." Food & Wine and Saveur seem rather light on their coverage. Even Martha Stewart Living, which we would sort of hold up as the grande dame of Thanksgiving entertaining, seemed scaled back. (We hasten to add that we're not saying that's a bad thing -- Lord knows there are plenty of great autumn recipes out there that don't involve sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce.)
But there was one magazine that blew us away this year. You guys know we tend not to single out particular magazines or issues as favorites, but this must be said: Bon Appétit BROUGHT IT this Thanksgiving. Buh-ROUGHT. IT. From its "Feast from the East" feature, which showcased marvelous ideas for an Asian-inspired Thanksgiving, to the "Down South" feature on a Louisiana Cajun Thanksgiving feast, we were enthralled. Four turkeys, a host of awesome side dishes, and drool-worthy desserts (we need that Grape-and-Apple Pie) -- the November 2011 Bon Appétit is a pleasure. Even if you're set on your Thanksgiving menu, consider picking up a copy just for fun.
As you can see from the word cloud above, the usual suspects are, well, the usual suspects. So here's a word cloud showing all the recipe words, minus "turkey," "gravy," "cranberry," "stuffing," "potatoes," "dressing" and "roasted" (a.k.a. the saddest Thanksgiving ever):
Here's what we see in terms of trends:
The Rise of the Vegetarian Main. In this year's Thanksgiving recipe index, we've had to add a new category: Vegetarian Mains. Four of the 10 magazines we included in the index featured recipes for meat-free entrées so that you can have -- what Fine Cooking calls on their cover -- "Thanksgiving for everyone."
Pie is Back! Last year the recipes for cakes outnumbered those for pies. Not so this year. Pie is back in a big way (and we're not even including Food Network Magazine's insert for "50 Thanksgiving Pies").
Pecan vs. Pumpkin. In the category of desserts, those using pecans rival those with pumpkin this year. This wasn't the case last year. Apple, as always, continues to be popular in Thanksgiving desserts.
Green Beans and Brussels Sprouts Dominate. The category of side dishes is overrun with recipes for green beans and Brussels sprouts.
Corn is Out (Again). Poor corn can't catch a break. Once again, corn is barely represented at the Thanksgiving dinner table. And no, cornbread doesn't count.
Mushrooms Sneak Into Stuffing. There was only one mushroom stuffing in 2010, but this year, three of the 10 magazines are featuring mushrooms as part of the dish.
So that's it! On Monday we'll be back to share the 2011 Thanksgiving Recipe Index, plus our favorite holiday dishes. Then all month we'll be showcasing the recipes from this year's magazines that we've tested at home, leading up to the big day. In the meantime, you can see the covers of all the November magazines, below.
What are you excited to make for Thanksgiving? Have a dream dish you're searching for? Or a favorite of the November recipe covers below?
Let us know in the comments!
(Updated) Related Links: