Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Thanksgiving Icon: A Love Letter to Bell's Seasoning

It isn't Thanksgiving for me without Bell's Seasoning.
I mean, just look at it! 
Admittedly, when I was growing up, we had an awful lot of Thanksgiving dinners at the Engineer's Club in Philadelphia. My Dad hated turkey, and eating dinner at his club was a way he could avoid having to eat the dreaded stuff. We always hosted the entire family, and it was surprising that only 2 or 3 out of the ten or twelve assembled guests actually ordered a turkey dinner. When Mom made the meal at home, in addition to turkey, there was always a ham so my father wouldn't starve.

So now, I am not a huge fan of roast turkey, unless it's been doctored up in some way, or smoked or grilled. But when it comes to the stuffing, I'm a purist through and through. All the fancy dressings with sourdough, oysters, sausage and what-have-you are all good, but there's better be a bowl of plain, old-fashioned stuffing on the table, too. Plus regular old gravy to drown it in. There is a caveat: The stuffing has to be seasoned with Bell's  Seasoning. Being from the Northeast, and having many New England ties, Bell's has always the go-to seasoning we all used on turkey, chicken, in stuffings and gravy. It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving if that perfect, iconic little yellow cardboard box with the turkey on the front, filled with herbs and spices wasn't seen on the kitchen counter during the meal preparation. The recipe they use has been the same for over a century, and they'd better not change it one iota. Please. Bells Seasoning tastes like Thanksgiving to me. It's delicious. Redolent of rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, pepper and marjoram in just the perfect combination. Perfect poultry seasoning. Make note here: I don't work for the company that makes this seasoning and the folks at Bell's haven't paid me to say nice things about the product. I just can't celebrate this holiday without it.

This year, it was rather difficult to find here, and since I only have a couple of tablespoons left in the little box in my cupboard, after cruising two grocery stores hunting for it, I bought two boxes at the third store I visited. Talk about devotion. Yes, I know there are lots of other kinds of poultry seasoning, and I certainly have mixed up plenty of my own. But this is important in a different way. It's about the flavor of love and the past. And yes,I also use it in many other preparations that have nothing to do with Thanksgiving, or turkey, but that has nothing to do with this right now.

Even though I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, I am cooking some turkey just so we have some as "leftovers",  and it wouldn't feel right NOT to have that little box somewhere on the counter.
Just a couple of turkey thighs, braised with a little Bell's Seasoning, white wine and onions.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all and remember that in spite of all the other details, it matters more what's on the chairs than on the table.


  1. Why didn't I use this on my Thanksgiving bird? Dang it all!

  2. Bell's Seasoning is amazing. Absolutely cannot make stuffing without it!