Here in the United States, we are preparing for one of my favorite holidays coming up in a couple weeks: Thanksgiving! Where I’m from, we have many traditions around this holiday involving gathering with family or friends (maybe over Zoom this year?), giving thanks for our blessings, volunteering in the community, watching football and parades, or kicking off the Christmas season with shopping and decorating. But one tradition seems to be the same for everyone: eating a big feast of all our favorite comfort-foods. Personally, I plan to watch the Macy’s parade, cook a big meal for my family, and after we’ve all stuffed ourselves, have an Austen movie marathon. Which got me thinking, what if the Austen men were Thanksgiving dishes? Now, there are a LOT of men in all of Austen’s books, so to keep it simple, I included the main leading men, the secondary leads, and the rakes, plus a couple others, for fun. Austen wrote some very yummy male characters, and I just couldn’t help but compare them to some of my favorite foods.
The Salad Course
Veggie tray- Mr. Elliot (Persuasion)
On the outset, it seems like a good option, right? After all, veggies are healthy! Until you realize that you’re adding all those extra calories by dipping everything in Ranch dip…not unlike the way Mr. Elliot turned out to be a real weasel. Besides, who eats veggies on Thanksgiving with everything else there is? Pass the mashed potatoes please!
Relish tray- Tom Bertram (Mansfield Park)
It’s not like a relish tray is a bad thing– in fact, I couldn’t imagine Thanksgiving without my tray of pickles and olives! But nobody (except maybe me) is going “yeah, I can’t wait to get to Grandma’s and have some of those relishes!” Tom Bertram is kinda like this. He’s not the worst of the Austen men, but nobody really goes gaga for him either.
Tossed salad- Mr. Elton (Emma)
Salad is another one of those dishes that likes to masquerade as a healthy option. And it can be– when it’s not loaded with fancy toppings and rich dressings. Mr. Elton, too, initially looks like a decent catch, but his haughty attitude and petty behavior is no different than drowning a good bowl of veggies in bacon, cheese, fried toppings, and full-fat creamy dressing (though to be honest, that sounds pretty tasty! Maybe I’m a closet Mrs. Elton…)
Jell-O salad- Mr. Thorpe (Northanger Abbey)
Let’s be honest: who actually thinks that Jell-O salad is a good idea? Okay, sure, if you want to make one that has fruit in it, say mandarin oranges in an orange Jell-O, or strawberries in a strawberry Jell-O, that I would go for. I’ll even take whipped cream with my Jell-O. But when people start making weird ones with canned tuna, shredded vegetables, olives, or black pepper in it? I’ll say “pass!” Mr. Thorpe reminds me of a Jell-O salad– the yucky weird kind. Nobody likes him. NOBODY. He’s a donkey of a man, if there ever was one. I mean, who even BRINGS these Jell-O salads to a Thanksgiving potluck anyways?
Ambrosia salad- Captain Benwick (Persuasion)
The flip-side to a Jell-O salad: an Ambrosia salad. They come in many varieties, usually with different types of canned fruit, marshmallows, shredded coconut and whipped cream. My sister-in-law makes an amazing one she calls “Heavenly Hash” that has maraschino cherries and pineapple in it, along with the other stuff, and we always beg for more! Captain Benwick reminds me of this salad: chock full of sweetness and good things. He’s a character that I wish we could have seen more of in the story. I would have liked some scenes of him reading poetry to Louisa Musgrove.
Turkey- Mr. Knightley (Emma)
If ever there was a food that’s forever associated with Thanksgiving, it’s turkey. Arguably, you can’t have Thanksgiving dinner without it, yet it’s often eclipsed by the side-dishes in terms of favorites (we’re looking at you, cranberry sauce!) Mr. Knightley is definitely main-dish material, a hero with virtually no flaws, except maybe being TOO good for Emma! Move over, mashed potatoes, let’s get some gravy on this bird!
Sweet potato casserole- Mr. Bingley (Pride and Prejudice)
Who ever thought a vegetable could taste like dessert? It’s ooey-gooey, topped with marshmallows, and just plain good! Sounds a bit like Mr. Bingley, to me. The sweetest side-kick you ever saw, with a heart like marshmallow fluff.
Mashed potatoes-Captain Wentworth (Persuasion)
Does it get any better than light, fluffy mashed potatoes for dinner, on any day, but especially on Thanksgiving? Captain Wentworth’s gotta be the mushiest of all Austen’s heroes; that proposal letter he writes can undo even a heart of stone. Plus, he’s in the navy, and we all love a man in uniform. No wonder he’s swoon-worthy! Now, pass the gravy!
Corn casserole- Colonel Fitzwilliam (Pride and Prejudice)
The unsung hero of Thanksgiving: creamed corn, milk, eggs, and butter, whipped together with cornbread mix and baked ’til it’s thick. Some people call it “sweet corn spoon-bread”. I call it “heaven!” My aunt’s corn casserole recipe has long been a family favorite, and to this day, I have yet to meet someone who didn’t like it. Colonel Fitzwilliam, too, is one of those friendly characters that everybody likes, yet somehow, he manages to stay in the background of the story. It’s a little sad that Austen kept him single at the end of the book, but that left plenty of room for fanfiction writers to pair him off willy-nilly!
Stuffing- Edmund Bertram (Mansfield Park)
An old-fashioned classic (which happens to be my very favorite Thanksgiving dish!), and also a simple dish: some bread, celery and onions, butter and stock, baked in a casserole dish or stuffed inside the turkey. Stuffing, (or dressing, as some people call it) is just one of those feel-good dishes you’ve got to have on Thanksgiving. Edmund Bertram is one of those too. He’s got an old-fashioned sense of good morals, he’s tender and comforting, and he’s the staple item that holds the whole family together.
Cranberry Sauce- Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
The first time you try cranberry sauce, it’s sour taste will more than likely make you pucker. But it’s one of those foods that the more you eat of it, the more you can taste the sweetness of the sugar coming through. Mr. Darcy, too, is one of those men who nearly everyone dislikes the first time they read (or watch). On first introduction, he really seems like an arrogant jerk! But about halfway through the story, you start to see his sweetness underneath, and by the end, there’s not a lady who doesn’t fall for Mr. Darcy.
Green bean casserole- Edward Ferrars (Sense and Sensibility)
A crunchy exterior of fried onions, but underneath, the mushy goodness of green beans and cream of mushroom. Edward’s shy nature and untold secrets makes him a bit hard to get to know, but underneath that crust is a man with a soft nature and a heart of gold. Besides, aren’t the fried onions kind of the best part of the casserole anyways?
Deviled eggs- Mr. Wickham (Pride and Prejudice)
I remember my Nana used to make deviled eggs every year for Thanksgiving. Perfectly hard-boiled, the insides scooped out and mixed with mayonnaise, mustard, and spices, then stuffed back in the egg whites and dusted with paprika. Mr. Wickham’s one tasty devil too– charming to a T, handsome, but just waiting to give you trouble, like those eggs that have been sitting out way too long on the buffet counter, breeding salmonella.
Broccoli-gratin casserole- Frank Churchill (Emma)
Broccoli for Thanksgiving sounds healthy, right? Until you realize this veggie’s loaded up with cheese and calories. Still, it sure is tasty. Frank Churchill’s not bad; in fact, we like him. He’s charming, he’s funny, and in all, he’s probably the mildest of all the Austen bad dudes. But we’re not sure we want too big a helping of Franks’ deceitful BS either.
Boiled Potatoes- Mr. Collins (Pride and Prejudice)
Not the most popular Thanksgiving dish, admittedly, but after the line Mr. Collins makes about them in the 2005 movie, I think there would be some fans who would, er– boil me if I didn’t give this one to him! 😛 Boiled potatoes are a plain dish, even when seasoned with some salt, pepper, and herbs, but nevertheless, they can be tasty, and some people love them. Mr. Collins too, can be unpalatable to many, but some, like Charlotte, are able to see his advantages and may even grow to love him in time.
Pumpkin pie- Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility)
Besides the turkey, what food screams “Thanksgiving” more than pumpkin pie? It’s tender, it’s sweet, it’s got that amazing crust holding it all together. Plus, there’s a reason everyone goes wild for anything labeled “pumpkin spice” during the fall; it’s just dang good! Colonel Brandon is the real hero of Sense and Sensibility. He’s the reason everybody gets their happy ending in the story. He’s kind, he’s sensitive, and when he loves, he loves with his whole self. And like pumpkin pie, we can’t get enough of him.
Apple pie- Robert Martin (Emma)
Flaky crust, warm cinnamon and sugar, and tender apples. Robert Martin is an honest-to-goodness apple pie sort of guy if I ever saw one. A simple farmer, but his worth is greatly underestimated.
Pecan pie- Henry Tilney (Northanger Abbey)
A Thanksgiving favorite, what do you get when you pour a thick layer of gooey gelatin in a pie crust and top it with a pretty pattern of nuts? Pecan pie, of course! Henry Tilney’s probably the nuttiest of the Austen heroes; his goofy sense of humor keeps readers and the heroine alike on their toes. But beneath that layer of jokes and witticisms is a guy who’s the real-deal. He’s noble, soft-hearted, and oh-so-tasty!
Cherry pie- Henry Crawford (Mansfield Park)
Sticky, syrupy sweetness, cut down by the tartness of the cherries and the flaky crust. Henry Crawford oozes with sugary words and good looks. But in reality, he’s a flake and a tart. Don’t get me wrong, I love cherry pie anytime, but as for Henry Crawford, he’s one dessert to steer clear of.
Chocolate silk pie- Willoughby (Sense and Sensibility)
One look at the heap of chocolate mousse and whipped cream sitting in that pie crust, topped with little curls of shaved chocolate, and you know you shouldn’t have the slice of pie. But you want it anyways. Willoughby is probably the most delectable of all the Austen bad-boys. He looks so good, has great taste in music and poetry, and is so charming you fall in love at first sight. But watch out that you don’t get a stomachache.
Boy, I’m hungry! How about you? Were there any favorite dishes– or men– that you would have liked to see added to this Thanksgiving menu? Anybody that you would have paired differently? Who do you think fit the description the best?
And, as my Thanksgiving treat to you, here’s an exclusive sneak peek at my new contemporary romance, “Love at the Library”, about a Jane Austen fan who falls for a handsome, sci-fi-loving librarian. It comes out December 11, and I’ll be having a release party right here on Austen Authors, with some great prizes, so be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss out!
The next day, Sierra called Megan from the airport while she waited to board her flight to Mexico. Megan filled her in on her date the night before, as well as Levi’s invitation.
“I just can’t believe you’re already going to meet his family!” Sierra gushed.
“I know. I’m pretty nervous about it,” Megan admitted.
“Puleeze,” Sierra drawled, “they’re gonna love you. When Brad dumped you back in September, I never expected you’d already get another boyfriend by Christmas. Meanwhile, I’m still sitting here single. I’ve had nothing but a string of bad first dates for months now.”
“Do I detect a hint of jealousy?” Megan teased.
“Chica, if anyone deserves to be happy, it’s you. Believe me when I say, I’m incredibly happy for you. But when you’re throwing the bouquet at your wedding, make sure to send it my way; I need some good luck in the love department!”
Megan laughed. “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment. I knew you would be wishing me joy.”
Now it was Sierra’s turn to laugh. “Are you quoting from Pride and Prejudice again?”
“Guilty as charged,” Megan grinned. “But really, let’s not make this any bigger of a deal than it is. I’m meeting his family, not getting engaged.”
“Yet.” Sierra pointed out. “Just don’t blow it with this one, okay? I can already tell that he’s a great catch.”
“I didn’t blow it with the last one, either,” Megan retorted.
Sierra sighed. “I know. I phrased that badly, I’m sorry. He’s the one who blew it, not you. You deserve so much better than Brad. That’s why I’m praying everything works out for you and Levi.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it,” Megan smiled again. “Hope you have a safe flight, and have an amazing time with your familia in Cabo.”