Turkey noodle pot pie. That’s all I have to say. That was a total and complete culinary disaster. Even the dog refused to eat it, and the dog was not a fussy eater. I thought I was being clever and creative. Sometimes, leftovers are better left alone. With Thanksgiving just about upon us, I have thoughts about holidays and family and those who become part of our families. I think about how we often try new things (see above) and family, because they love us, will give it an all out try and yet sometimes despite good intentions, we end up with epic failures. These are the stories families like to tell, of past and now humorous food and social disasters. I have had plenty of them and after a little bit of good natured reminiscing and poking, I can say that these are the things that make celebrations more celebratory.
I truly enjoy cooking and Thanksgiving ranks as my favorite holiday. The menu is standard and the preparation is organized and well thought out. The timing is perfect, except when it is not. For several years, my sister and I shared the “Joy of Cooking” (old standard cookbook reference) at her house. She would buy the turkey and fixings and we would start our routine of peeling, boiling, mashing, baking and of course watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Then there was the year that the turkey just didn’t want to be cooked. Dinner was scheduled for four p.m. Family and friends were hovering (which I might add is not always helpful or wanted, just saying). That sucker just didn’t cook. Turn the oven up, turn it down. Cover it, uncover it and short of calling the ladies of Butterball for consultation, we pondered. More appetizers, until there were none. There were a lot of questions, and concerns. Now it was about 6:30 and the idea to stick a fork in it found that it was still tough. For a few moments we wondered if this bird was not farm raised but something that ran through the woods near the farm and invited itself in to be sacrificed for our dining experience. I think we may have decided that we would serve dinner slowly, first a soup course, then a salad, followed by checking the damn turkey. We put the sides on the table with some delicious rolls and creamy butter, nice and warm with the hope that people would be too full for turkey. Not the case. I believe people do that stretching your stomach exercise which is the same one that people do who are planning to participate in a hot dog eating contest. Eventually, somewhere between “I am out of my mind” and “I think at least the breast meat is done”, we began to serve the bird. It was pretty cooked, but not perfectly cooked. As we sliced the breast meat, we then put the bird back into the oven for another few minutes of “tanning”. It was the longest dinner on record. Everything else was great, but somehow, my appetite waned. My brother-in-law made a lovely toast to the chef(s). Always a gracious host. The wine flowed and maybe that made the meal more delicious. It becomes evident that Thanksgiving is about family and friends, and less about the food.
Stories over the dinner table can relive those moments of past meals and bring smiles and peals of laughter. We show love to one another with the gifts of tolerance and generosity. We share the best of the memories as well as the tales that reflect the vulnerabilities and foibles of human error. We never blame it on the chef, we just blame it on the tough old bird.
Wishing each one of you a day of peace, and reflection and comfort with the people who love you no matter what. Happy Thanksgiving.
Have a great long weekend.