Comfort Food

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The country is worried about Iraq and high fuel prices and other problems. It's time to look forward to the comforts of a traditional family dinner that comes at Thanksgiving. "Whatever your family traditions are, this year they have to be strictly observed," Linda Wertheimer says.


Now that Halloween is over, we're all turning our attention to the next great national festival, Thanksgiving. It's both a tough time and a great time for holidays. The country is worried certainly about Iraq. Polls also show that government corruption is a major concern for everyone. High prices for gas and heating have us all unsettled. The polls show we're losing faith in our leaders. We need to gather our families around us and share a good dinner and think of steadier times. So that's why I'm already thinking about Thanksgiving dinner.

In tough times, it's essential to be very careful to have the dinner that everyone expects. Whatever your family traditions are, this year, they have to be strictly observed. In my case, that means turkey with sausage and corn bread stuffing--I favor Jimmy Dean sausage and my mother's corn bread recipe--also sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and several kinds of pie. We will leave aside the fact that I don't really like sweet potatoes and my husband hates Brussels sprouts. Two kinds of cranberry sauce, homemade and the round kind with ridges, are also part of this meal. Variations may be OK. Brussels sprouts that are roasted, not boiled, sweet potatoes mashed with apples or pears. I must draw the line at horseradish and sour cream in the cranberry sauce.

The general appearance of the dinner has to be familiar, traditional, nothing left out, nothing added, nothing weird, especially now. But after the day, the football games and the dinner, when we're comforting ourselves with turkey sandwiches, the world will begin to creep back in. So escaping it, even briefly, is very important. We can be very thankful for a holiday that combines big food, football and family, leaving little room for anything else.

And if I may be indulged, I know Halloween is so six days ago, but in the nation's capital, it's working its way up to being a major holiday. We have always had an affinity for masks in our fair city. I'm working on a new tradition, Halloween dinner, everything on the menu orange and black. But, of course, kids are the best part of Halloween and using them as a kind of indicator of public fortunes, what do you think it means that two different children dressed up as Scooter Libby came trick-or-treating at my door?

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WERTHEIMER: Medeski, Martin & Wood at 18 minutes past the hour.

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