Friday, November 28, 2008

Mistakes Were Made, But I regret nothing

I've been cooking Thanksgiving, with all the trimmings, since I was eleven or twelve years old. But the last Turkey I cooked was ten years ago as I was preparing to cook the Turkey and a few sides and take it to my brother-the-vegetarian's house. I went into false labor, threw the turkey and my toddler into my parents' arms, and stayed home weeping, drinking *castor oil* because its not only good for fascists to give to communists, and vice versa, but is such a delightfully natural way of bringing on childbirth. Since then I have had to attend Thanksgiving with Mr. Aimai's family where I was condemned to bringing appetizers that were consumed during a series of embarrassing pre-Turkey games like charades and a Turkey Toss. And to eat a voluminous meal, executed with military precision, of a series of inedible traditional dishes notable primarily for their rubbery, undercooked, or bland qualities. This year, mirabile dictu, I cooked the meal myself, at my house, with my children around me cleaning up as I go, for my side of the family. What a pleasure! Children not underfoot but actually handily writing lists "brusul sproutes, check!" "turkee stofing, check!"(they go to a progressive school, so sue me) and doing the dishes while mommy steps out for a moment to blog. We rolled out three pie crusts to the thumping strains of the various Buffy the Vampire albums and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and cleaned and oiled the countertops at a dancing pace.

However, mistakes were made.

Turkey: brined, buttered, herbed and--undercooked and rubbery. Who ever thought that this cipher of a meat, this black box of cooking, should be the centerpiece of a meal? Next year--squab, either raw or deep fried. I can't take the tension for five hours.

My first ever Pumpkin pie: oh for g-d's sake, read the fucking directions already. A) don't add candied ginger to the bottom of the pie. It tastes like some kind of cough syrup. B) chill it in the refrigerator, ok? Is that so hard to understand? CHILL IT IN THE REFRIGERATOR for at least two hours. Your pretense that it is some nouvelle cuisine mousse is fooling no one.

My first ever Pecan Pie: ditto. Read the directions. Don't add anything. Also, try a different recipe next time. Rose Levy Bernbaum is highly overrrated. Even the Lyles Golden Syrup people (kudos for a great tin design, though!) realized they shouldn't let her anywhere near the pie crust recipe and just asked her for filling instructions. But its too sweet. Plus, no bourbon.

Also, don't ever rush out and buy very very necessary and never before owned refrigerator to oven to table pans. As it turns out they offer you the worst of all possible worlds: the pans take so long to reheat in the oven that the food never gets fully heated while the pans themselves become burning hot and you have to warn children, the elders, and small animals away from the buffet line as you burn your own fingers and shriek imprecations usually reserved for the Bush family and Republican politicians into the uncaring night. Then, when everyone digs in, they discover to your horror and their polite distress that your various vegetarian friendly dishes are largely uncooked.

Also, if you have to choose between incompatible food fetishes take the Inuit, who eats only seal blubber, the Jain who refuses all meat and several varieties of beans and onions, and the Cannibal looking to spit your children and roast them. Whatever you do, don't try to satisfy modern American vegetarians, dieters, and etc... Its too complicated. (just kidding budgie!)