ON NOVEMBER 22 Americans around the world will celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

Although we all acknowledge this day, many of us are unsure of its significance.

The origin is a little confused in itself and there is some debate as to the reason for celebration.

Most notably, this is linked to the Pilgrims arriving in America celebrating a harvest festival, or an alternative view suggests a religious connection such as prayer and fasting.

Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863.

In that year, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln made his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.

He asked his fellow citizens to ‘to set apart and observe the fourth Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise . . .’

Turkey has become the traditional Thanksgiving fare.

It was introduced to the early Pilgrim settlers by the Native American Wampanoag tribe after the Pilgrims arrived in 1620.

Many years ago, I remember catering for a Thanksgiving party for an American lady in Ruislip.

I soon realised how seriously they took this – and how much they liked to party!

It was a first for me and acknowledging this, she gave me recipes for the appropriate dishes.

There was a butternut squash soup, roast turkey, cranberry sauce, orange glazed carrots, candied yams and pumpkin pie.

The candied yams posed the biggest threat to me as I had not cooked them before.

Here’s the recipe should you wish to create your own Thanksgiving dinner:

Candied Yams

(Serves 4)


6 medium sized sweet potatoes250g soft dark brown sugar50g melted butter200g marshmallows1 tbsp granulated sugar2 tsp salt


1) Peel and cut the potatoes into thick even slices.

2) Put potatoes in a pan and cover with water.

3) Add the salt and granulated sugar to the potatoes and water.

4) Cover and boil until potatoes are tender (approximately 30 minutes).

5) Drain potatoes and place into a baking dish and sprinkle with brown sugar.

6) Brush the potatoes with butter.

7) Bake for 20 minutes in a moderately hot oven.

8) Sprinkle with marshmallows.

9) Return to oven and bake until marshmallows are brown.