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Families May Celebrate This Thanksgiving With Smaller Turkeys, Fewer Sides


People who forsake a big Thanksgiving gathering will be safer this year, but they will also face a question - what to do with all that food? NPR's Dalia Mortada investigates.

DALIA MORTADA, BYLINE: There's no way Kathy Gunst is going to skip cooking for Thanksgiving this year.

KATHY GUNST: I feel devoted to celebrating this holiday.

MORTADA: She's a cookbook author who you can often hear on NPR's Here & Now. And she's just making less of everything. Her kids are far away, so it'll be a smaller turkey and fewer sides for her and her husband. But she says for people lucky enough to be geographically close to their loved ones, there's actually a way to share the same dishes while staying apart.

GUNST: Several families. I know that live within, say, 30 minutes of each other, they've divided up the meals. So one person's making the turkey, one's making the mashed potatoes, one's doing brussel sprouts, and they are safely dropping off portions at one another's front doors.

MORTADA: When it's time for dinner, everyone gets to share the experience of eating the same meal and hopefully a sense of connection. But what's the plan for people who want to share the experience even though they're hundreds of miles apart? Like for Julie Silverbrook (ph) and her family who live all over the mid-Atlantic.

JULIE SILVERBROOK: Thanksgiving is usually pretty big. So we usually have more than 20 people. And that grows every year as our family grows. And it's a big turkey, lots of sides.

MORTADA: And since they can't get together for Thanksgiving Day, they broke with tradition altogether and celebrated a couple of weeks early. Instead, they went on a remote tasting tour of the Bronx's Little Italy. Together, they drank wine from southern Italy and nibbled on truffle pecorino and an extra sharp parmigiano reggiano that's been aged for two years, all from a deli in that neighborhood. And for Silverbrook and her family, the shared experience let them daydream a little of the future.

SILVERBROOK: We just kind of all started looking forward to what life might look like after the pandemic and talked about going on, like, a big family trip to Italy.

MORTADA: That tasting tour was provided by Christian Galliani and Danielle Oteri, who run Arthur Avenue Food Tours. Normally, they give walking tours of the Bronx's Little Italy, but now they've shifted to doing it virtually. But for people who want some version of a Thanksgiving meal, Oteri says 2020 being 2020, there are no rules. Don't want to fuss over a big dry bird? No problem.

DANIELLE OTERI: People could pick a dish. Maybe that's something that's central to their family tradition or it may be something new altogether - I'm a big fan of lasagna - that everybody can make together and then gather virtually, even if it's, you know, just for half an hour on Zoom.

MORTADA: Whatever you choose, Oteri reminds us it's already been such a tough year. It's OK to take it easy on Thanksgiving. Dalia Mortada, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SOUL'S RELEASE'S "HEADING HOME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.