Non-traditional Comestibles Suitable for Holiday-specific Ingestion

by Cody Cobb
Before Thanksgiving break, my plant systematics professor told us that if we handed her a list of the scientific names of every plant species we consumed over the holidays we would get extra credit. I toyed with the idea of simply rewriting a recipe to include the latin names but considered that too easy. Instead, I’d have to go all out and write a full-on academic paper of my holiday experience. Since this would also be my first Thanksgiving away from home, I had cause to experiment. What follows, then, is my extra credit assignment:

Thanksgiving celebrations traditionally involve the ceremonial consumption of a flightless avian species, Meleagris gallopavo. Prepared as the centerpiece of an intricate meal that may also include Ipomoea batatas, Cucurbita pepo, Brassica rapa, etc., Meleagris gallopavo is widely perceived as an indispensable component of the holiday’s festivities. Presented here is the first report of a successful Thanksgiving feast lacking Meleagris gallopavo.

Full text here (pdf).
codycobb_acerCody Cobb is a first year Ph.D. student in plant biology & pathology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He has lived his entire life previous to this point in Texas and is currently enjoying his first autumn. He feels he should mention that his earliest desktop PC was an Acer. So is his ‘mustache.’



  1. I have to admit, my favorite part of this paper was Figure 1. While it is bad protocol to have a figure legend that doesn’t stand alone (tsk, tsk, Cody!), I had to go back to reading the text, looking for the reference to the figure, and laughed out loud when I found it.

  2. Great stuff! We try to include something non-traditional and different to our Thanksgiving dinners each year. Two years ago it was Vietnamese rice paper rolls, last year it was Baklava, this year it was… um, basement renovation.
    And right before our Meleagris gallopavo was to go in, the oven autoclave decided to do what your knife did in Figure 1. Luckily, a cleaned up wire and a scraped contact and we were back in business!
    Uncontrolled reports place my butternut squash pie better than pumpkin. It just so happens that the canned pumpkin used for pies comes not from Cucurbita Pepo but from Cucurbita Moschata, which is the same species that Butternut Squash comes from! So I’m not venturing too far from home. Maybe it is because I canned the squash myself, maybe being stored in glass rather than metal helps, or maybe there’s a placebo effect, or maybe we’ve been using the wrong variety for pies all this time! I could do an experiment to test these hypotheses, or accept the compliments instead.

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