Turkey Day in the USA: The Manly Cigar Smoking Holiday

Turkey Day in the USA: The Manly Cigar Smoking Holiday

I can say with total certainty that there is truly not a more manly-man holiday than Thanksgiving. There’s a combination of elements during this most joyous occasion that raises one’s testosterone to almost unmeasurable heights. It’s the ritualized elements of the food, the drink, the sports, and finally the cigars that make every guy truly proud that he is the owner of a dangling man part.

Without question, Thanksgiving is America’s favorite holiday – free of forced gift giving and any religious overtones. If you live more to the north, you experience the autumn colors as well as the colder fall temperatures. If you live in the south, well, hot temperatures and palm trees seem pretty weird to me while gobbling down some bird, but I guess it really doesn’t matter as long as those four key elements work in concert to bring about that Turkey Day magic.

Element 1: The Food

Not only is Thanksgiving our favorite day of the year, it’s got the lowest incidence of suicide of any holiday, well, maybe other than Arbor Day – I mean who’s going to hang themselves over a fucking tree? And the reason we love it so much is because we cigar maniacs are all a bunch of gluttonous bastids who revel in life’s greatest pleasures.

Element 1 is broken into 4 categories – Appetizers, Main Course, Side Dishes, and Dessert. Appetizers… Good appetizers are essential as they get your stomach all lubed and ready for a day of psychotic overeating. My wife’s family is insane with the amount of food they make and when it comes to the appetizers, it’s just flat out ridiculous. I mean these people get you filled to the gills on salami, pepperoni and cheeses, bruschetta, Buffalo wings, chips, dips and whips, tater skins, Swedish meatballs, veggie platters and a ton of assorted shit wrapped in bacon. Yum.

Main Course… Well, at our house we have that bizarre mix of Polish and Italian ethnicities so there are few main dishes to appease the family unit. The wife makes an ultra juicy, big-ass bronze bird, somewhere in the 23 lb rage. The secret to our luscious gobbler actually comes from covering the turkey with cheesecloth and basting the living hell out of it in its own greasy drippings. Then there’s a big old Polish smoked ham on the bone, and finally a tin the size of a backhoe bucket full of cheese encrusted baked ziti.

Side Dishes… The amount of side dishes we have is out of freakin control, but quite possibly even more outrageously off the charts than the main meal. The Duggar family (Google ’em if ya don’t know) could live for a month on the side dishes we serve and it all starts with Mrs. Zman’s killer stuffing, laden with ground Italian sweet saus-eege! Ten pounds of whipped mashed taters slathered in butter is a yearly staple, as is my mother-in-law’s homemade, mayo-bombed coleslaw and macaroni salad, little pearl onions in cream sauce, and her signature pierogies and kielbasa in sauerkraut. Polacks in da house – you bet your dupa!

My daughter’s sweet potato pie with them melty little marshmallows is heaven here on earth, as is her homemade cranberry sauce, much to the chagrin of my dad who actually likes the jellied cranberry slop from a can. Yuck. Delectable creamed spinach and creamed corn make their way around the table along with the sautéed shrooms, broccoli n’ cheese casserole, and my Guinzo mom always tosses in her meatballs in red sauce. Did I forget to mention the amazing thick brown turkey gravy my sister-in-law makes from them bird drippings? Before we can all be rolled away from the table, I’m always waiting for someone to offer Mr. Creosote just one wafer thin little mint as he yells, “Bring me the bucket!”

Desserts… Many will argue that dessert may just be the finest part of the day, and in keeping with our ode to a 7th deadly sin known as gluttony, we simply do not disappoint. Pies are the staple here – Banana crème and chocolate crème pies get annihilated in an instant along with the coconut custard, blueberry, and peach. An array of homemade cookies, cream puffs, and cannolis are also slaughtered and the cheese cakes with various fruit toppings don’t stand a chance of survival. And, the Mrs. always insists on making fresh whipped cream – none of that canned shit at my place.

Capped off with several pots of fresh hot coffee, the Thanksgiving meal is always a rousing success. I really don’t know how we do it: I mean we all walk away from the table like those snakes you see on the nature channel that just swallowed a nanny goat, whole.

Element 2: The Drink

While the kiddies guzzle their sodas and sugar laden fruit drinks, the adults start getting soused early on with the good stuff. I’ll start with beer, something you have to pound during those pre-game appetizers. I always buy excellent craft beers for the dudes like me who love good ales, IPA’s, and stouts, especially to down with those premium cigars. The Belgian ale, Chimay made by Trappist monks is a delicious, high alcohol content brew that can get you pretty hammered early on so ya gotta go easy. Cricket Hill over by me in Fairfield, NJ offers up a tasty variety of micro faves. And the most special beer I’ll get is the amazing Innis & Gunn out of Scotland, beer aged in oak whisky and rum barrels that gives off notes and flavors like nothing you’ve ever enjoyed. Google that one, you’ll thank me later.

And while there are the few like me who revel in micro-brewed heaven, there’s always those who choose to pound the pungent swill that’s marketed during pro football games. They seem to love those bottles that turn blue to let ’em know when their piss water is cold enough to drink. I’ve always used a highly scientific method to determine when my brew is cold enough – it’s called my fucking hands.

For the dinner, a few good wines are in order, some pinot noirs, hearty California cabs, and peppery Australian Shiraz that go so well with the eclectic mix of eats. Of course the ladies need their chardonnays, and I’ll always snag the finest boxed wines on the market so a certain relative who will remain nameless can add her Sweet N’ Low with fruit. Appalling?… hell yeah, but I’m so snookered by then that it really matters not. Finally, for pairing with the after dinner cigars, there’s good scotch (Balvenie Doublewood is my fave), some bourbon, and a couple of nice tawny ports, maybe a Taylor Fladgate 20, a Presidential or Cockburns. BTW, that’s pronounced “Co-Burns”, ya pervert.

Element 3 : The Sports

Turkey Day is a day of professional football for the males of the species, and for years it’s been two NFL games in Detroit and Dallas, and just recently a 3rd night game has been added. This year, the Lions, who have been hosting the game since 1934 are facing the Green Bay Packers, a great match up for the fans since the hapless Detroit franchise just sucked for decades on end, making games past a colossal bore. The Cowboys host the Raiders in the late afternoon and then the Ravens host the Steelers at night. There’s some great pigskin on tap this year as we stuff our faces for hours on end and yell at the screen, simply because it’s our rite of passage.

Element 4 : The Cigars

Finally, we get to the premium hand rolled happiness. Cigars and Turkey Day have been a ritual for me since I started smoking about two decades ago and if I could smoke twenty sticks that day, I would. But I’m no Mark Twain or Sigmund Freud and I can’t do that many without getting a case of black lung, so I am selective about what I choose.

Generally, I smoke three cigars on Thanksgiving Day. I’ll tackle my first one late in the morning before family begins to arrive – usually its medium bodied (leaning a tad to the lighter side.) This year I’ve chosen to go with the new Romeo y Julieta House of Capulet, a super tasty Ecuadorian wrapped gem that sports a lot of flavor for a light wrapper stick My palate is pretty clean at that point so I’ll really be able to taste that golden beauty.

The next smoke break comes after the appetizers are devoured as everyone needs to take a breather between the apps and dinner. Here’s where I go medium bodied (to the slightly fuller side) and this year it’s the La Gloria Cubana Gilded Age Toro that will make its debut appearance. I want some flavor to come shining thru and the Ecuadorian Sumatra Oscuro wrapper gives off a nice spiciness after the pepperoni and bacon have salted my Polack palate.

The final cigar of the day comes after dessert as I head outside with my dad and a select few herfers who need to wind down from partaking in that Roman orgy-esque gorge-fest. We have our coffee, scotch, bourbon, and ports readied as everyone agrees that a full bodied flavor bomb is what’s needed to cut through the insane mix of thirty pounds of food we’ve just eaten. This year, I’m adding another first to the line up, the Inferno by Oliva, a dark and oily treasure that carries all the oomph one will need to cut straight through to the taste buds. The spice on this bad boy comes from the Nicaraguan ligero that’s laced throughout, and its smoothness derives from the Nicaraguan Habano it’s wrapped in. OMG, this is a sublime creation by the masters at Oliva and you will be sending me thank you emails for the recommendation.

Final Thoughts

I guess you have to admit that it’s true what they say, you only live once and there are only so many Thanksgivings in a person’s lifetime. Actually, I probably could have added a 5th Element: The Left-Overs, which we nosh on for days until our bodies cry out for some salad and fruit.

I advise all of you to have a stupendous Thanksgiving holiday this year and if you go with my premium aged tobacco recommendations, it may go even better than you might think. In the words of Mr. Spock, I urge you all to live long and prosper. And in the words of every turkey gobbling, cigar loving American patriot… smoke ’em if ya got ’em… and I know you got ’em!

Tommy Zman Zarzecki

Tommy Zman Zarzecki

Editor-at-Large at Cigar Advisor

Tommy Zman, is an obsessive enjoyer of life’s leafy pleasures. Growing up in the bowels of northern New Jersey, parented by an eccentric Polish father and a neurotic Italian mother, what else could this man possibly be other than a humorist? ZMan’s a real throwback to a time when men were kings of the castle and smoking a cigar in public didn’t label you an outcast and a pariah. He’s an old–school down to earth guy - but when it comes to p.c. tyranny and nanny-state legislature, he’ll draw his sword and swing for the fences. Tommy gathered a faithful following as a longtime feature writer at Cigar Magazine, and his testosterone laden FaceBook community, CROMAG NATION™ is truly the last great bastion for Men’s Men.

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