Something isn’t exactly right at our place on Thanksgiving. In truth, I suspect foul play. Because up until recently, most of our Thanksgivings, while certainly warm and joyful, have been haunted by the specter of, there’s no other way to say it, turkeys past. And by that, I mean the Thanksgiving meals that both B. and I grew up with — perfectly roasted turkey, perfectly carved turkey, perfectly ready-when-company-arrives turkey. But our Thanksgivings? Not so much. To wit:
The Very First Turkey Thanksgiving. I had never made a turkey before, so I watched hours of the food channel in order to prepare for the feast (we were having just a couple of friends over). It seemed that every cooking-show host, while stuffing their turkey, warned against overstuffing. I, as a result, became hysterical when B. started adding spoonful after spoonful into the bird. Me: “Stop! Stop! Stop!” He: “What? What? What?” (Two New Yorkers, we speak in exclamation points and multiples.) Me: “If we overstuff the turkey, something terrible will happen!” He: “What, exactly?” Me: “I don’t know … but I think the bird explodes!” He: “Does that seem realistic?” Me: (after breathing into a paper bag to stop hyperventilating) “Oh … I guess if you overstuff the turkey, the stuffing just spills out.” He: “There you go.” Me: “Shut up.”
The Turkey that Wouldn’t Get Done Thanksgiving. When my in-laws came to visit us one Thanksgiving (different apartment and oven), I was well prepared. This time there’d be no foolishness about overstuffing, no lack of confidence about a perfectly cooked turkey, and not one proverbial feather out of place. Wrong. When the three-hour cooking time for the turkey grew to four, five, and then six hours, I knew that something was afoul. The internal temperature had yet to reach the proper number (another food channel directive), and so we cooked on and on. At seven hours, the turkey was done (temperature-wise) and done (tough stuff). Turns out, our oven was not working correctly. Call it 50 degrees of miscalibration.
The Whose Thanksgiving Is It Anyway? Thanksgiving. Ah, yes. The time that one of our guests decided that she was Martha Thanksgiving Stewart — and decided to make our Thanksgiving celebration her very own. Without asking and without delay, she rushed to the table (nicely set, if I say so myself), removed the flowers at the center, and replaced them with a pair of turkey-shaped candles (not candlesticks, because that would have been bad enough, but candles). She then reorganized the refrigerator (that is, shoved all of my platters and bowls aside) to make room for her jell-o mold in the shape of a yes, you guessed it, turkey. And finally, the pièce de resistance — she showered the table with turkey-shaped glitter. The. Entire. Table. And the floor. We were crunching tiny metallic turkeys underfoot for the next two weeks.
All that having been said, I do love Thanksgiving, albeit not the turkey. So not one giblet shows up in my kitchen. Instead, I make brisket with all the Thanksgiving sides (tip: it makes great leftovers).
I march to my own drumstick. That’s just how I play.
ⓒ 2015 Claudia Grossman