A Tiki Alternative to Thanksgiving Are you bored with the same, old Thanksgiving dinner? Take the Tiki route instead. Day to Day contributor Charles Phoenix offers recipes for a meatloaf in the shape of a Tiki god, and other exotic delights.

A Tiki Alternative to Thanksgiving

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Back now with DAY TO DAY.

And you know, on most NPR shows this is about the time when you'd hear, oh, you know, the scraping of dishes, the crackling of fat in a pan, and some learned person, a cook or otherwise, sharing a classic Thanksgiving recipe.

Unidentified Woman: Two tablespoons of horseradish.

BRAND: We are not going to go there.

Mr. CHARLES PHOENIX (Author): Are you tired of the same old turkey dinner? I know I am. That's why I've decided to make it the tiki turkey dinner this year. Hi. I'm Charles Phoenix, and this is the tiki turkey dinner party.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: Nothing says midcentury more than tiki, and so it was that our contributor, '50s fanatic Charles Phoenix, seized upon tiki as just the thing to spice up his Thanksgiving Day feast.

Mr. PHOENIX: The tiki turkey dinner is all the traditional Thanksgiving dinner dishes that I grew up with except everything's been Polynesianized. For example, cranberry mango pineapple sauce, volcano mashed potatoes and lava gravy, coconut curry...

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. PHOENIX: Are you guys ready? Because we're going to make the dinner right now. So here is how to make the tiki turkey dinner. The first thing we're going to do is we're going to make the cranberry mango pineapple sauce; it's going to be delicious. We have our traditional cranberry sauce - whole berry in the can. We have frozen chunk mangos. I'm going to add raisins and some mango jam.

BRAND: Didn't catch that? Don't worry, we've got all the recipes plus pictures and video. You have to see Charles to believe him. It's all at npr.org, including the recipe for the Hawaiian bread stuffing.

Mr. PHOENIX: It's two big loaves of Hawaiian bread crumbs, two sticks of butter, thyme, sage, poultry seasoning, crushed pineapple, coconut flakes, date bits; that's the recipe.

BRAND: Pretty much all the ingredients come in a can, a jar, or a plastic pouch, but that's okay because that's kind of, well, it's kind of tiki. And tiki - or tiki culture, as its fans call it - has been around since the 1930s. It's an amalgam of Polynesia and pure fantasy, Charles says. At its heart, tiki is about relaxation, sipping an exotic cocktail by a pool lit with flaming torches. And even though it's inspired by the Asian Pacific, tiki is uniquely American.

Mr. PHOENIX: Americans have the ability to invent their own style and culture, little bits and pieces of it. We will take a culture and totally stylize it and make it our own, and that's basically what tiki culture is.

Uh-oh, this is burning. Oh no.

BRAND: The main course: a turkey meatloaf which Charles is shaping into the face of a tiki god.

Mr. PHOENIX: Meat as a sculptural medium is a little more difficult to work with than I had anticipated. But don't you worry about a thing; it's going to come out beautifully.

BRAND: The dinner hour approaches and the guests arrive.


Mr. PHOENIX: Aloha.

MERAJI: Aloha.

Mr. PHOENIX: Are you ready for Thanksgiving?

MERAJI: I'm so excited.

Mr. PHOENIX: Hi, sweetheart.

(Soundbite of kiss)

Mr. PHOENIX: Here. Come on in.

BRAND: It's good to see you.

Mr. PHOENIX: Hey, Joe.

Mr. JOE BRAND: How are you?

Mr. PHOENIX: How are you?

BRAND: We're a small group - just me, my husband Joe, and our DAY TO DAY director, the vivacious Shereen Meraji. She immediately reaches into a centerpiece of skewers, each topped with a pineapple chunk and a maraschino cherry.

MERAJI: Mmm. Delicious.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. PHOENIX: I need about five more minutes. We've had a minor Jell-O mold meltdown, literally. I left it too long in the hot water.

BRAND: We enjoy some fruity cocktails - blue fruity cocktails - while Charles works frantically in the kitchen...

Mr. PHOENIX: Oh, dear.

BRAND: ...and soon emerges like a proud father.

Mr. PHOENIX: Tiki turkey dinner is served. Right this way, please.


Mr. PHOENIX: Voila.

MERAJI: Wow. This looks delicious.

Mr. PHOENIX: So let me - allow me, if you will, Hawaiian bread stuffing.

BRAND: Oh, oh...

Mr. PHOENIX: Coconut curry green bean casserole.

BRAND: Oh my...

Mr. PHOENIX: Doesn't that look delicious?

BRAND: Look at that.

Mr. PHOENIX: Lava gravy, volcano mashed potatoes, cranberry mango pineapple sauce. Ambrosia.

BRAND and MERAJI and Mr. BRAND: Ambrosia

Mr. PHOENIX: No meal would be complete without it, of course. And then here is your very own tiki turkey meatloaf. This is the tiki turkey dinner.

BRAND: Extraordinary. Oh, Charles.

(Soundbite of applause)

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: We dig in. It's - interesting. Soft. Doesn't really require teeth.

Mr. BRAND: Mmm.


MERAJI: Delicious.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: And once we've gummed our way through the coconut curry green bean casserole and the pineapple sweet potatoes with multicolored marshmallows, it's time for dessert.

Mr. PHOENIX: Okay. Are you ready for coconut pineapple apple pumpkin pie upside-down cake flambé?


Mr. PHOENIX: How's that for you, you guys?

(Soundbite of blowing)


(Soundbite of coughing)

MERAJI: It's delicious.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: Now, after a regular turkey dinner most Americans gather around the TV to watch the ballgame or maybe they hit the couch for a nice long snooze. What to do after a tiki turkey dinner?

Mr. PHOENIX: The limbo.

(Soundbite of guests singing)

(Soundbite of song, "Limbo Rock")



MERAJI: Thank you.

Mr. PHOENIX: Thank you very much.

BRAND: That was really great.

MERAJI: Bye, Charles.

Mr. PHOENIX: Bye, you guys.

Mr. BRAND: Delicious.

Mr. PHOENIX: Thanks for coming.

MERAJI: Thank you. Yes, very delicious.

Mr. PHOENIX: Happy Thanksgiving.

(Soundbite of song, "Limbo Rock")

Mr. PHOENIX: Oh, that turned out pretty darn well. Whoa.

BRAND: The tiki turkey Thanksgiving dinner as prepared by Charles Phoenix and produced by Steve Proffitt. Photos, recipes, and video - it's a tiki fest - all at our Web site, npr.org.

(Soundbite of song, "Limbo Rock")

DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News with contributions from Slate.com. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us to you. I'm Madeleine Brand.

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