Aspen Princess: Happy Thanksgiving, chickadees!
I love when I get to write my column on a holiday because then it’s like I get to celebrate with all of you.
So without further ado, let’s celebrate my favorite holiday. This is how we do it (cue the Montell Jordan song):
1. To keep Thanksgiving within the Jewish spectrum of holidays, at least culturally speaking, my mother buys me a gift certificate at Whole Foods to pay for the meal because she knows I can’t afford all the gourmet ingredients I will buy to prepare something she actually likes to eat. What’s really ironic about this is she will eat exactly half of what she puts on her plate (she literally draws a boundary line like the goddamned Berlin Wall pre-1989 that will not, under any circumstances, be crossed) and she will only take a tiny dollop of each dish just to be polite. She will visibly cringe at anything with butter in it and has, on more than one occasion, unabashedly announced that she “does not like Thanksgiving dinner” because of its fatty, savory content and large portions. So that’s what I have to work with.
2. I will spend hours browsing Thanksgiving recipes on Epicurous.com because I have no cookbooks that were handed down to me nor recipes. The only way I could possibly unearth the ingredient lists for the dishes that were served to me growing up would be to track down the caterer my mother hired to prepare our Thanksgiving meal in West Hartford, Connecticut, in the ’80s. Something tells me they’re probably not on Facebook.
3. I will select several highly complicated gourmet dishes that require expensive and/or hard-to-get ingredients and spices that have me driving all over the Roaring Fork Valley and will require I visit at least three different grocery stores. (The brine for my turkey alone has, like, 15 ingredients, and you don’t even get to eat them because they go into a bucket with a raw turkey.)
4. I need a Ph.D. in chemistry and mathematics to determine my grocery list because each recipe requires more fractions and unit measurements than my brain has had to process since, like, sixth grade. I end up buying double the amount of ingredients I need. And so every year, another stick of unsalted, hormone-free butter, another bag of organic blue cornmeal and another bottle of allspice are added to my pantry. Yes, I do assess what I have before I go, but there is some kind of amnesia thing that happens in Whole Foods that only adds to its mystique. (Do they pump some kind of drug through the ventilation system there that makes you temporarily insane? Slip undetectable amounts of heroin into the “free samples”? Dose the water in the drinking fountain with LSD?) That place has a serious hold on me.
5. Even though I’ve been slacking on my diet/exercise regimen for the past three years (something about saying “I do” translated to “I don’t” when it came to the extremes I used to go to for the sake of staying thin/getting laid), I decide to binge exercise the week of Thanksgiving, therefore limiting the amount of time I have/need to manage cooking this meal in an efficient manner. So I will end up trying to cook the six dishes with the 27 different components all at once.
6. Despite my best efforts to run my kitchen a la Bobby Flay (or at least as decent as a “Chopped” champion) and to maintain a clean mise en place, I will transform into the Tasmanian Devil and end up with random food particles on the ceiling, under the rug and between the cracks. Fortunately, I now have a pug to assist me with this issue, though she’s only going to be able to manage the floors. The ceilings and other random places where flung food lands will likely not be addressed until the next time we decide to repaint the walls.
7. Because I decided to go for a two-hour run before I eat, even though I haven’t run in six months and am at least 15 pounds heavier than the last time I would have considered myself a runner capable of going for that amount of time (I won’t even mention the distance because it’s pretty embarrassing how slow I go now that I sort of shuffle down the road determinedly), I will hobble around the kitchen in immense pain as I rush to attend to last-minute details, like being short at least two forks because no one bought us the flatware we registered for when we got married. (Jerks!)
8. When our two families finally sit down to break bread, I will announce they are required to sit at the table for at least an hour, what, after all the time and effort I put into cooking for the past three days. My mother will make a mocking face, and my mother-in-law will ask, “But what if I have to go to the bathroom?” and then giggle because she is very silly and rebellious in nature, which is one of the reasons I love her but have learned not to leave her unsupervised in the kitchen for any extended period of time.
9. We will eat and agree that my Adobo turkey with red chili gravy and blue cornbread shrimp stuffing kicks ass again this year. The meal will go by entirely too quickly, and my mother will make a smug remark about that being the reason she used to hire a caterer.
10. Despite my snarky attitude, bossiness in the kitchen and neurosis over the ridiculous number of calories I have consumed, I will feel extremely thankful for my family, my friends, my beautiful home, my meaningful work, the best husband in the whole wide world and the cutest damned pug you ever saw in the whole world, period.
The Aspen Princess is lying on her back thinking about exercising. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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