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NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 25:  Food Network personality Alton Brown (R) attends the 84th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 25, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic) Getty/FilmMagic

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7 Thanksgiving Podcasts to Get You Through Holiday Travel

Listening suggestions for when you’re getting on a plane, train, or bus

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Whether by plane, train, or automobile, millions of Americans are embarking on an annual pilgrimage home for the Thanksgiving holiday. That means hours of travel and, quite possibly, at least some time spent waiting around due to one form of delay or another. It’s not a great way to kick off the festivities, but, until someone makes that technology from Star Trek a reality, it’s unavoidable.

Since you’ll be stuck in a cramped seat for a while anyway, why not pass the time by getting in the Thanksgiving spirit? This holiday serves as the Super Bowl (or Oscars or New York Fashion Week or Worldwide Developers Conference or your big-event metaphor of choice) for much of food media, and the podcasting and public radio mediums are here to provide the recipes, hacks, anecdotes, and stories of turkey triumph and travesty.

Here, now, are seven of the best selections to listen to while you’re en route home for the holiday. These can also serve as nice distractions from family should you exhaust all of your television and movie options.

The Splendid Table/American Public Media

The Splendid Table: “Turkey Confidential 2016
Host: Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Guests: Bridget Lancaster, Mario Batali, Francis Lam, Melissa Clark, Chris Thile
Run time: 1 hour, 57 minutes

During Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s two-decade-plus run as host of The Splendid Table on American Public Media, “Turkey Confidential” became the must-listen episode on an annual basis. Recorded live Thanksgiving morning and broadcasted on National Public Radio affiliates across the country, guests discussed their favorite holiday traditions and chefs such as Mario Batali answered questions from desperate callers in need of last-minute advice, all with Kasper moderating and enthusiastically pronouncing the word “shallot”. The entire backlog of Thanksgiving episodes is timeless and makes for excellent holiday listening.

Kasper stepped away from the show in February, but she’ll be back to host her final “Turkey Confidential” this week. Next year, new Splendid Table host Francis Lam takes over the tradition.


The Sporkful: “Thanksgiving Is for Eaters
Host: Dan Pashman
Guests: Amy Sedaris, Mo Rocca, Kenji Lopez-Alt, L.V. Anderson, Sam Sifton, Robert Krulwich, Rosie Schaap, Brook Gladstone
Run time: 51 minutes

Dan Pashman recently claimed this year’s Sporkful Thanksgiving special would be the show’s last because “we weren’t sure we had anything new to say — beyond exploring our own mixed feelings about tradition and innovation and holiday stress.” Forget that hooey, we listeners demand our Thanksgiving content. In 2015, Pashman tackled the holiday with a star-studded (for food obsessives, at least) guest list. Amy Sedaris, who now has her own wonderful cooking show, and Mo Rocca explain how to deal with family stress. Writers Sam Sifton and L.V. Anderson talk sides, and Rosie Schaap has holiday cocktail recommendations. RadioLab co-host Robert Krulwich tells a turkey love story. Pashman attempts to cook with journalist Brooke Gladstone. The most important information, however, comes from professional recipe hacker Kenji Lopez-Alt, who explains the best way to cook that big bird.


NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02:  Kat Kinsman speaks on stage at the Cooking Light's 30th Anniversary Celebration at The Museum Of Food And Drink In Brooklyn on November 2, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Cooking Light) Getty Images North America

Stories of Strange Women: “Kat Kinsman
Hosts: Tonya Hurley, Tracy Hurley Martin
Guests: Kat Kinsman
Run time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Twin sisters Tonya Hurley and Tracey Hurley Martin use their podcast to “interview a guest who has earned her reputation for strangeness in their field” and get “an insider’s look at how she did it.” This recently published episode features Kat Kinsman, who is the senior editor of breakfast-centric digital publication Extra Crispy. Kinsman and the Hurley sisters talk Thanksgiving anxiety, growing up weird, whiskey sours, and a few other topics, such as a day in the life of a dominatrix.


The Alton Browncast: “Thanksgiving, The Bird” and “Everything but the Bird
Host: Alton Brown
Guest: Patty Catalano
Run time: 52 minutes and 54 minutes

Here’s a two-parter. Adored food geek Alton Brown and his podcast producer Patty Catalano spend nearly two full hours answering listener questions and breaking down everything one might need to know about turkey-and-sides preparation. To brine or not to brine? How big of a turkey is the right size? What are the necessary Thanksgiving sides? These questions, and more, are answered. Fans of Brown’s old Food Network series Good Eats will want to take it for a spin.


This American Life: “Poultry Slam 1995
Host: Ira Glass
Guests: Julie Showalter, David Sedaris
Run time: 59 minutes

This iconic public radio program has been running its “Poultry Slam” Thanksgiving special annually for 22 years. The first edition, recorded back in ’95, includes stories about mass-turkey slaughter on a farm, a taxidermy turkey head, and how to tell when fried chicken is done just by listening to the sound of the grease, plus a poultry-themed poem.


Gravy: “Adaption, Survival, Gratitude: A Lumbee Thanksgiving Story
Host: Tina Antolini
Guests: Malinda Maynor Lowery, Jefferson Currie, Gloria Barton Gates, Heaverd Dobbs Oxendine Jr.
Run time: 24 minutes

The very first episode of this Southern Foodways Alliance podcast, which aims to tell “stories of the changing American South through the foods we eat,” was produced in 2014 and deals with the subject of Thanksgiving. Specifically, host Tina Antolini interviews a few Lumbee Indians, members of a Native American tribe from Robeson County, North Carolina. While a number of stereotypes come to mind at the thought of Thanksgiving, Antolini’s guests explain that a Lumbee holiday feast is a little different: “anything related to chicken,” fried fatback, fried okra, ham, collards, cornbread, corn on and off the cob, and “the best cakes you’ve ever tasted,” are among the dishes that can be expected.

In addition to learning about Lumbee food, Antolini discovers how the Lumbees have adapted over time as they were introduced to descendants of Africa and Europe, as well as how the tribe survived in 20th century while facing the Ku Klux Klan and racist Jim Crow laws.


Todd Rosenberg Photography/Facebook

The Feed Podcast: “Leftover Turkey Ingredient Challenge
Hosts: Rick Bayless, Steve Dolinsky
Guest: Stephanie Izard
Runtime: 31 minutes

Sure, everyone wants to know the best way to cook a turkey and, maybe, some new ideas for side dishes. But don’t forget that once Thanksgiving dinner is over, there’s a good chance your fridge will be chock full of leftovers. What are you going to do with those beyond simply reheating them in the microwave? Celebrity chef Rick Bayless and Stephanie Izard, a Chicago restaurateur and recent addition to the Iron Chef lineup, try to find out in this 2016 episode of the podcast. How does a Kentucky hot brown sound?

Hungry for more? Check out Eater’s own podcast, The Eater Upsell. Recent episodes include national dining critic Bill Addison divulging how he came up with his list of America’s essential restaurants and editor Erin DeJesus explaining how food writers cover natural disasters.

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