I hope everyone who celebrated had a happy Thanksgiving!
I was recently reading a food blog by an American who lives in Paris (who shall remain nameless bc the last thing I need is to publicly flame a much-more-visited blog than I have!), and the guy went off on how Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated with “mediocre” food. Au contraire!
Jon and I celebrated with dinner for eleven last Thursday night. We didn’t get the day off from work, but we spent Tuesday and Wednesday evenings shopping and prepping up a storm. Our menu: butternut squash soup, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, cornbread stuffing, string beans in a vinegar sauce, and, of course, the turkey. Throw in the magnificent flaky-crust pecan pie and pumpkin pie that our friend Liz baked, and I think it’s fair to say the food was anything but mediocre, if I do say so myself. We stuck with recipes from the Joy of Cooking (fancified 1997 ed.), because on Thanksgiving, what you really want are tried-and-true, well-tested (practically foolproof) recipes.
Just like last year, our turkey came from the butcher down the street, E. Wood. I don’t know if the two owners are brothers, but they certainly look it, all white haired and twinkly eyed.
Jon picked up our special-ordered 5 kg bird (which cost a not-so-humble $80) around 4 pm on Thanksgiving. While waiting for his turkey, he chatted with a British woman who asked “what religion” celebrated Thanksgiving. And the question reminds us of exactly why we love Thanksgiving – it’s a holiday for everyone! Who doesn’t believe in taking time to give thanks? [The answer, if you believe everything in the NYT, is the French.]
The turkey, by the way, while quite juicy and fresh, still had bits of feathers intact when Jon brought it home. I gotta tell you that as much as I love cooking, I want some serious credit for pulling out feather bits from the skin before washing and salting that sucker.
It was kind of a mad juggle for the first hour of our dinner party – finishing up the turkey and letting it cool down, popping the mac’n'cheese and stuffing in the oven, making room for all the serving plates and bowls . . . ladling out soup while chatting with guests who drifted into the kitchen to talk and say hi.
We managed to get everyone to start drinking and complete a “Thanksgiving Day quiz,” which was not only a decent ice breaker, but also not a bad stall tactic while we got our act together. I figured nothing gets a type-A crowd going better than a quiz! Our friend Jon Hlafter is forever immortalized as the man who got the most quiz answers correct. If only he’d remembered that it wasn’t just Squanto who helped out the Pilgrims, but also oft-overlooked Samoset, he would have had bragging rights to a 100% score. (I had, by the way, added a high-point-value question about the Detroit Lions thinking it would be a really tough one, but apparently “everyone” knows the Detroit Lions always play on Tgiving Day. Oops).
We all toasted and gave thanks for friends and family, which I love doing, and then on a much more superficial level, I was pleased our table looked nice. I really enjoy using so much of our table linens, china, silver, glasses, tapers, etc. Seeing it all in the glow of candlelight and listening to the clink and chatter of dinner guests makes me feel so Edith Wharton (except without the army of servants – where are my servants!?!).
If I had to sum up our Thanksgiving in one sentence, I’d say it was really busy and fun to share the meal with a mix of new and old friends.
On Thursday, I’m off to India, so keep reading! I’ll try to post as I make my way around the “Golden (Tourist) Triangle” of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.