Recipe Comix: Spinach Madeleine

This week's comic comes from New Yorker editor and cartoonist John Donohue, who earned his food world stripes as the editor of the anthology Man with a Pan (see the Saveur review of the book »), which grew out of his blog, where he writes about cooking for his kids. Here, he shares some thoughts on the matters of Thanksgiving, pot-lucks, and pie-induced acrobatics — along with his mother's own recipe for a side dish of spinach.

_I asked my four- and six-year-old girls what is served at Thanksgiving, and they said "Turkey, meringues, and salad." Then they asked: "Where will it be this year?"

When I was a boy, Thanksgiving was always in the same place, with the same people, and the same menu: Turkey, stuffing, gravy, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and my favorite, a spicy creamed spinach.

As I grew, the menu stayed the same, and the number of people at the table grew.

Until they didn't.

Eventually, we were living all over the place, and the menu and the meal became just as far-flung.
We were in the casino of the potluck: With in-laws, cousins, sisters, and brothers taking turns hosting, Thanksgiving became a bit of a crapshoot. The star is always the turkey, of course, but what comes with it can be a gamble.

I wonder what my children will remember about the holiday, but at least for now I know that my eldest has a good understanding of the joy that is associated with this quintessential American gathering. "Pumpkin pie makes me want to do a handstand on the couch," she recently said.

In the late 70s or early 80s, my mother took a class on holiday entertaining and nutrition at the Westchester County Cooperative Extension, and came home with the recipe for that spicy spinach. She's been making it ever since, though her method now is reduced to mixing the spinach with canned mushroom soup, diluted with water from the spinach, and seasoned with Monterey Jack jalapeño cheese._

See previous weeks' Recipe Comix in the archive »

John Donohue is an editor at the New Yorker, for which he also draws cartoons. He is the author of the food-writing anthology Man with a Pan, and blogs at

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