Can everyone’s younger sibling that still goes on about the tragedy of celebrating Thanksgiving please leave the room? We’re talking Thanksgiving–the All-American feast of food where we reap the rewards of our abundant produce and edible imports from around the world, so that at no given time throughout the year our people are never without avocados or strawberries. Food–it’s our national obsession. To become a citizen it’s required you overindulge in it and watch hours of TV shows watching people eating it, preparing and eating it, and eating it and commenting on eating it. Food is what brought our nation’s people together before killing each other and ripping one group of people from their homes. We don’t even care if food is good on this foodie day, until you’re halfway through a bland mash of green beans and potatoes.
If you’re staying home for the holidays and celebrating with a bunch of “orphans,” your taste buds will most likely be graced with a meal prepared by the best cook, who is most inspired and who resides in the coziest setting. If it’s family, the host is usually the worst cook but she/he is dependable and does it every year and we call it tradition. Of course in this day and age there is also the TDay Potluck or TDay Wild Card/Bi-Polar–as some dishes may turn out heavenly while other recipes cull from a guest’s family’s tradition.
I myself give thanks this year for not having to spend it with family. If I did, my husband and I would travel to Houston, where my mom takes over cooking duties and as a guest, I can only sit back and give thanks. As someone who loves to cook, it always makes me a little crazy to hand over a holiday with such exciting produce options to my mom who prefers to make everything from a can or box. Not that I blame her too much–the woman has always hated cooking but loves that she has to do it or else…EVERYONE WOULD STARVE TO DEATH! Obviously this has always been of critical concern:
What I especially find interesting about the family TDay meal is that it somehow always reeks a little of the same dishes mom used to make almost every day of the week. Difference of course being the turkey, cranberry sauce from a can (my mom must have the can-formed rings around the jelly), and the yams from a can covered in marshmallows (as wrong as that is I admit it’s yummy). The rest was same ol’ same ol’. I’m Cuban so what we had was most likely different from what you had, but trust me when you have the following at least 3 times a week in some kind of random rotation, even if it tastes good, it is not exotic or exciting: picadillo–a kind of Cuban chili my mom would make use of on TDay to stuff the turkey, boiled yuca, mashed potatoes from a box, salad of greens and tomatoes, black beans and rice, tostones (smashed fried plantains–not the sweet kind) or platanos fritos (fried plantains–the sweet kind), a so-called baguette from the grocery store bakery, and for dessert, flan. Now the flan was a thrice yearly thing my sibling and I actually got excited about because as opposed to what you might think from that picture above, my mom never had anything sweet around the house except for maybe frosted corn flakes which we coveted.
No this year, I have chosen to spend it with friends, where the food is always different and tastes festive. Where conversation do not mirror super committee political debates that lead to nowhere and wine always flows. I give thanks this year to staying put and keeping my eye on the food prize. I am American and I will be stuffed!