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Megan McArdle

What to Serve Before Thanksgiving Dinner

These recipes will stall your starving guests without filling them up prematurely.
Cranberry sorbet, anyone?

Cranberry sorbet, anyone?

Source: Souders Studios/Getty Images

If you’re anything like me, Thanksgiving is not a well-scheduled affair. You airily say “We’ll eat at 4” (or 1, or 7), and then the turkey stubbornly refuses to cook. Or someone accidentally turned the heat off under the potatoes. (Fortunately, the turkey will only benefit from a little rest before the dismemberment.) Or the gravy stubbornly refuses to come together … and in the meantime, there are all those people with hungry expressions, standing around and politely NOT asking when, exactly, they’re going to get to eat. …

This is what appetizers are for. But the Thanksgiving appetizer presents a peculiar conundrum. On the one hand, you do not want to cram your guests so full of Brie en croute and spinach-artichoke dip that they can but politely pick at the turkey you spent all day roasting. On the other hand, many of the folks in your living room have been all but fasting for the last few days in order to leave adequate room in their stomachs for the Big Event. If you do not give them something to take the edge off their hunger, you are apt to return from checking the turkey to find that they have started gnawing on the coffee table.