For this year’s Milk Street Radio Thanksgiving Special, we asked our friends and listeners to share their favorite Thanksgiving memories: tales of family, unusual or enduring traditions, hilarious disasters or surprises. From fond recollections of favorite dishes, to the occasional holiday mishap, find out what some of our favorite chefs, writers and food personalities shared with us.

Farrell Monaco, experimental archaeologist and food historian

Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving from the piazza in Pompeii, Italy. I think this year's Thanksgiving is going to be very special, as we've certainly waited long enough for it. So may the joy of the holiday season warm your kitchens and dining rooms once again. And may we always be grateful for each other. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse

I always look forward to Thanksgiving because I want to make sure that I’m able to buy a free range organic turkey. I know that more and more people are raising them. And if I can't find a turkey that is free range organic, then I will make something else for Thanksgiving. I don't feel absolutely tied to the idea of turkey. I think we have to think about the other poultry, too. Maybe we can find an organic chicken and roast it in a beautiful way. But I love to gather my friends who all bring their own dishes to the table. My friends bring oysters that they get right up the coast. They bring squash gratin, cranberry pie, and there is a green salad at every Thanksgiving. After, we usually go for a walk up the hill, and then we come back and we have dessert.

Nathan Myhrvold, founder of Modernist Cuisine

When I was nine years old, I discovered cookbooks in the library and decided the real test of whether I knew how to cook would be to cook Thanksgiving dinner all by myself. Well, it came out better than if mom and the relatives that actually cook Thanksgiving had done it. Oh, I made a turkey of course, roasted yams and a variety of other things. One of the cookbooks I had gotten was called the Pyromaniacs Cookbook. It was all about doing things flambé, so I flambéed the sweet potatoes with rum at the table. Being a nine year old boy getting the play of fire is pretty fun.

Daniel Genis, author of Sentence

In my memoir Sentence, there's talk of Thanksgiving inside where the prisoners had turkey roll in a mess hall. But that's not how we really celebrated Thanksgiving. We made the best of it by making our own food and sharing it with other prisoners as if we were a family. Macaroni and cheese for 10. Fried fish for everyone on the tier. And for the people who couldn't afford to chip in, they just had to do dishes. We replaced our families with each other.

George Motz, host of Burger Scholar Sessions

Here's a great turkey idea for you: Try cooking one on a pig rotisserie like I did one year in 12 degree temperatures. It only took me about nine hours and seven bags of charcoal to make it happen. But man was it worth it!

Alice Randall, co-author of “Soul Food Love”

With my daughter, Caroline Randall Williams, we wrote Soul Food Love, and I want to share a memory of the very first time I ever cooked with Caroline. She was just under 18 months old and Thanksgiving was coming. We typically made a cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving with apples and sausage. But that year, I wanted to include Caroline–still in diapers–in the cooking. We decided to make a stuffing that involved baguette. So Caroline was sat on the dining room table a day before Thanksgiving, and given a giant loaf that she first tried to pull apart with her teeth, but quickly got the idea of pulling apart these the baguette into giant luscious crumbs that made a pretty spectacular stuffing that we've never forgotten.

Janice Poon, film/TV food stylist

While food stylists set a certain standard for the iconic Thanksgiving dinner, we're not always such traditionalist when it comes to our own. Recently at group fest, we're sitting around swapping turkey stories, when one particularly hip young stylist revealed that when she first came to the city, she couldn't figure out why her neighborhood pub always made her think of Thanksgiving. Until one day it struck her. It was the smell. We all laugh together. And you could tell by the way she smiled, she missed it.

Anthony Falco, author of Pizza Czar

I was raised in a vegetarian household before you could find vegetarian alternatives in the grocery store for your centerpiece. So we would make our own. We’d get beancurd sheets, sometimes called yerba, which is a traditional Asian food product. It's part of the process of making tofu. We would take a ball of stuffing and would layer these sheets over the top of it and bake it in the oven, served with all the other traditional sides of mashed potatoes and green beans and sweet potatoes and all those things. And to us, that was a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Jessica Harris, food historian and author of “High on the Hog”

More than being a food historian, I'm an eater. One of my favorite, favorite meals is the Thanksgiving meal. I have fond memories of sitting around the table with my parents and friends. It was always the same thing. Obviously the turkey with my mother's wonderful cornbread stuffing. There were also rutabagas mashed with regular potatoes and seasoned with a little bit of bacon fat. There were beets, done with a sort of sweet and sour dressing to them. There were always, for some reason, frozen green peas. And there are never creamed onions. I will always remember my uncle Richard coming to Thanksgiving dinner at our table once and just railing for the entire meal. What? No creamed onions? And so for many, many years thereafter, my mother and I could crack each other up by just looking at each other and going well, no creamed onions. So, whether or not you have creamed onions, Happy Thanksgiving.

Matthew Raiford, author of Bress ‘N Nam

I normally house hop on Thanksgiving, but about two years ago, my dad says to me, hey, son, you're cooking Thanksgiving for the family this year. I whipped my head back around and say, I don't cook Thanksgiving, I house hop. And he says no, this year, I want you to cook for the whole family. As a good son, I went on ahead and did that for 30 of us and I had carte blanche to do whatever I wanted to do. So I did oysters, fried turkey and was able to do my Nana's sweet potato pie.

Nik Sharma, author of “The Flavor Equation”

One of the funniest Thanksgiving was when the turkey burned. But luckily we had a turkey shaped piñata that year, which was stuffed with candy. That made up for the absence of what should have been on our dinner table. I also think everyone found the piñata to be a really great stress buster.

Pati Jinich, host of Pati’s Mexican Table

This Thanksgiving, I'm really excited because my friends are letting cook my new turkey recipe, which has a pineapple and brown sugar. And, it's stuffed with chorizo and cashews. So, I'm very excited for that and wish you all the warm in spiced up Thanksgiving.

Martha Barnette, host of A Way with Words

My favorite Thanksgiving memory year after year was my mother's yeast rolls. They were very simple, just milk, margarine, salt, water, package of yeast, egg and flour, plus a little bit of extra sugar. And when those things came out of the oven, you always took two or three of them at a time for your plate and put a little butter on them and that would melt and the taste was just heavenly. Beyond words really. It always made for a very happy Thanksgiving

Yolanda Shoshana, Spirits Expert

My favorite tradition is what my friends and I call pajama Thanksgiving. Basically, we all show up wearing our pajamas so we're comfortable all day, as we lay around, watch movies, eat, drink, and be merry. There's nothing better.

Quotes have been edited for clarity.

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