Every Thanksgiving, I pile one helping (okay, sometimes one-and-a-half) of every dish available onto my first plate. I know even while I’m doing this that it’ll escalate my Waistband Distortion Warning System to “Severe.” (Which I compound by piling one of everything on those third and fourth plates too. But that’s another story.)
However, there is one traditional holiday foodstuff that has never played a role in distorting my waistband: Mincemeat pie.
One reason for this is that nobody at our Thanksgiving celebrations has ever brought any mincemeat pie for me to shove into my voracious maw. But even if it had been there, I might well have passed. This is partly due to my instinctive “Don’t eat stuff with weird names!” filter. This has protected me countless times over the years from consuming stuff with names like “rutabaga,” “blood pudding,” and “head cheese.” And you gotta admit, “mincemeat” is kind of a weird name, especially for a pie.
I only began thinking differently about mincemeat after a long weekend avoiding chores by doing research on the Internet. First, there was a poll about “Favorite Thanksgiving Pies” on The Old Farmer’s Almanac website, and mincemeat got votes, even though it wasn’t on the ballot. (I should note that the endorsement for mincemeat wasn’t exactly ringing; one poll participant admitted “My grandmother and I were the only ones who ever ate it.”)
Still, there were plenty of reasons to remain skeptical. For one, mincemeat pies were originally called “chewets,” a term that brings to mind a bunch of my waistband-distorted relatives lounging around my house long into Thanksgiving evening and chewet-ing up all the leftovers before I can get to them.
My interest further dwindled when I learned mincemeat pie consumption is accompanied by many superstitions, including “Eat mincemeat pie in silence or you’ll endure bad luck.” Everyone at our Thanksgiving get-togethers is a talk-with-your-mouth-full eater; they couldn’t eat mincemeat pie in silence even if I threatened to turn them into mincemeat. My life would be riven with ill fortune that would make the events of that “2012” movie look like minor annoyances.