For as long as I can remember, every Thanksgiving me, my mom, dad, and sister would pile into the family car and drive to my uncle’s house while listening to Arlo Guthrie’s song Alice’s Restaurant. The 18-minute 34-second song tells the story of Guthrie’s arrest on Thanksgiving Day as well as his experience as a draftee reporting to the New York City induction center during the Vietnam War. The song has become as much a part of Thanksgiving to me as turkey and gravy and my uncle's amazing baked clams. Before, during, and after the song my parents always provide a running commentary, interjecting with vignettes about 1960s counter-culture, the draft, and even one story about a family member’s own extremely microscopic brush with the law for littering.
Although the song is called Alice’s Restaurant, the song really focuses the attention on Arlo Guthrie, so I always wondered “Who is Alice?” After doing some research a few years ago, I discovered that Alice’s full name is Alice May Brock and she is now an artist living in Provincetown. I also found out before she owned a restaurant, Alice was a school librarian and that’s how she first met Arlo Guthrie. Being a librarian, this made me like the song even more!
A recent treasure I discovered in the research collection at the Schwarzman Building is the Alice’s Restaurant Cookbook written by Alice and published in 1969. The book is filled with humorous illustrations, black and white photos of Alice and Arlo, and tons of hilarious advice on cooking (i.e. using hub caps lined with tin foil if you don’t have enough plates for your dinner party). Here is one recipe from the book to help you kick off your Thanksgiving:
My Favorite Thanksgiving Stuffing
1 pound of spicy breakfast sausage or Italian sausage
1 pound of chicken livers
4 chopped onions
½ cup or so of sliced mushrooms
1 or 2 chipped apples
3 or 4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 stick of melted butter
4 cups of bread crumbs
4 or more eggs
Chicken broth, salt, pepper, losta poultry seasoning
Cook the sausage meat, and set aside. Cook the chicken livers in the sausage fat and put them through a meat grinder or chop them up very fine. Then sauté half the onions and all the mushrooms in the sausage fat, adding some butter if necessary. Mix all the onions, the meat, apples, celery, and mushrooms together with any remaining sausage fat and the melted butter. Add the bread crumbs, eggs, and seasonings, and moisten with the chicken broth. Stuff it into the bird. (It’ll stuff a 15-pound bird.) This is the best, most fantastic stuffing I’ve ever had, if I don’t say so myself.
Don’t forget to check out the Alice’s Restaurant song and movie!