Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving control freaks

Folks love Thanksgiving for a buttload of reasons: family, football, food. I love Thanksgiving because I like to eat myself sick. But as I get older, I realize that for many, it's not about food, it's about control, and not in an awesome Janet Jackson way. Let me explain.
I traveled with my pal to her parents' home for Thanksgiving a few years back. Cousins, siblings, parents, and friends gathered around a perfectly appointed table for a perfectly planned-out meal. This was the kind of house that had enough matching chairs and china for a party of 12.

It was a little schmancy for me but I wasn't going to complain because, hey, stuffing! And I was too busy trying to figure out which fork to use for the mâche with satsuma and crystallized pansies. I helped serve the turkey, which had been carved offsite in the kitchen, and was gently admonished to serve from each person's left.

Well, at least I hadn't spilled anything…yet.

All this was fine, as my discomfort was about to be alleviated by dessert. One of the cousins brought a scrumptious apple pie and I couldn't wait to tuck into it, perhaps with a cup of coffee. 

Then time stopped.

The lovely, albeit tightly-wound, hostess appeared in the doorway holding a Le Creuset casserole dish. Poached. Pears. In. Port.

It was at this moment that I climbed back down the social ladder and stepped onto the firm ground of the lower middle class. I may not have money, but I do have taste. Thanksgiving dessert should involve pie, cake, crisp, cobbler, cookies, mousse, brûlée, ice cream, or some combination thereof. It should never ever consist solely of baked fruit in fortified wine. There were children at the table, for the love of Myles Standish.

Where was the pie, you ask?

Good question. I found it later, squirreled away on top of the fridge. My only saving grace is that it tasted amazing at 11pm with a cold glass of milk under the cover of darkness. This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful that while I veer into the land of the obsessive-compulsive, I'm generous enough to allow other people to bring things to the table, be it a talent, an idea, or a pie. If someone asks if they can bring something to dinner, say yes. While Thanksgiving often means cock-blocking the kitchen for many hosts and hostesses, it should be about abundance and generosity. Sure, that shot-in-the-ass green bean casserole might not pair well with your sav blanc, but someone made it out of tradition and/or love so pass the dish to your neighbor and reach for your ramekin of emmentaler gratin instead.

For the record, this year I'm making salted caramel pie and a fruit crisp. In recent years, I've made this sweet potato cheesecake from Kingfish Cafe, which is always a big hit. 

(photo: taylor.pt) 

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