Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

10 Responses

  1. James D. says:

    In my youth, ham was never part of our Thanksgiving dinner. As the family grew, however, we made a ham instead of a second turkey. The upside of adding the ham has been that I usually make a split pea and ham soup with the leftover ham and ham bone. I am surprised that neither of you like rutabaga. Just this week, I made a beef roast with carrots, onions and rutabaga. A few years ago I discovered that rutabaga was superior to potatoes when slow cooking. I think they have more flavor, they hold together much better when slow cooked, and they are healthier than white potatoes. Of course, I am the rare Irishman who doesn’t care for white potatoes. Though, I do love sweet potatoes and sweet potato pie is superior to pumpkin pie.

  2. Thomas Fleming says:

    Sweet potato pie is superior to most squash pies which are superior to all pumpkin pies that I have eaten. I think ham, especially country ham, is a very appropriate second meat for thanksgiving. As for the cattle turnip aka “Swede,” the less said the better. My dear wife palmed them off on me for years as simply turnips, and when I learned the difference, I never went back. It’s not that I won’t eat them in a mixed root vegetable dish or in mashed root vegetables, but they are like parsnips, a vegetable I can do without, so long as I have purple-tops. In our house, we don’t eat much potato, so they are a treat, especially when fried. We probably eat as much rice.

  3. Harry Colin says:

    I am enjoying these culinary adventures very much! One question – perhaps better labeled a plea – concerns allowing a turkey, or indeed a ham or beef or pork roast, some time to settle after cooking. In my environment, when I bring this up, folks complain that it will be insufficiently hot to serve. My response is that I prefer better taste to hot and dry, but I’m losing the battles. Any advice?

  4. Thomas Fleming says:

    The best thing to do is to develop deafness in one ear and then turn that ear to your critics. One can make sure, of course, that a room is warm, and I suppose one might transfer the rested food to a warm–though not hot–platter.

  5. David Wihowski says:

    I’ve been making Green Bean Casserole similar to the one Garrett described for years. All our dinner guests like it better than the original. No chanterelles on my “beer budget” though, just plain white mushrooms (which are under-rated in my [and Jacques Pepin’s] opinion).

  6. Thomas Fleming says:

    I don’t dislike champignons, but this is one subject on which the French are not to be trusted. An Italian friend once complained to me that the omnipresent champignon was the one thing he hated about living in France for a year. They contribute little but they do soak in a great deal of flavor. In this case, I can see their advantage–I’m afraid the chanterelles might overwhelm the beans.

  7. David Wihowski says:

    Perhaps champignons are to the French what melanzane are to certain regions of Italy, though not perhaps as omnipresent. And, yes, the French seem enamored of their champignon as my (good) French cookbooks indicate. I often “upgrade” to the meatier, slightly more flavorful cremini/baby bells, though they are merely a variety of Agaricus bisporus (champignon). The Germans and Polish in southeastern Wisconsin seem to like the flavor, albeit mild, of the plain white mushroom, though I have heard a few of the elders wistfully recalling the Steinpilze (same as Porcini) of the old country.

  8. Thomas Fleming says:

    Yes, indeed, it is not simply a question of one variety over another but of which fits a particular cuisine and recipe. Some day remind me to narrate a wonderful day in Milan, capped by very large grilled boletus.

    I’m going to bed sated on my rather bland version of shrimp etoufee. I’ve eaten this often in Louisiana and sometimes with a roux colored more peanut butter than mahogany. I don’t say it’s right but only pleasing to me.

  9. Vince Cornell says:

    I’m not sure if I committed a sacrilege, but I was in charge of the turkey this year and spatchcocked it. It cooked on high heat (450) for just about an hour and was done, breast and dark meat (it was a 14 pounder). I might have even overdone it just a hair, but the skin was very crispy and everyone enjoyed it. The bonus was I could also use the backbone in making the gravy. I’m definitely on a lower budget and cultural level than the discussion here, which I enjoy very much, but I have to look up at least half the words being thrown around. We swapped mushrooms for oysters in the dressing as all the oysters at the supermarket were from China. All the other recipes were family traditions on my wife’s side, and it was a fun meal and I lost the football game between me and the 5 kids, but only just barely.

    Hope everyone enjoyed a great Thanksgiving!

  10. Thomas Fleming says:

    Sacrilege, indeed, and treason! The chef gores further and advocates deconstruction of turkey, but I forbade him to bring it up. He cheated and gave us a turkey frier!