Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Po Boy Views


Phil LaMancusa

Thanks A Lot


Happy Bird Day

            The consensus is that I eat one meal a day. That meal starts when I wake up and continues until I brush my teeth with bacon flavored toothpaste before retiring; I’m joking about the toothpaste (creative license and all that), but you get the picture. My mother swore that my first word was related to food and that word was “MORE!” My Daughter says that I’ve a hunger of the soul. I say….” if eating was a crime, I would have to plead insanity; I’m crazy about food! “

            Perhaps that’s what led me into the food service industry and also perhaps why it was so easy to leave my last job when they stipulated that I’d have to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Christmas you can have, but what sort of Philistine would make a body leave hearth and home to feed a bunch of unfamiliar people dinner on Thanksgiving? People should have homes of their own and ought be there! I could see if you’re homeless and I’m all for putting in some hours feeding those less fortunate; but, to consciously venture forth for Thanksgiving dinner instead of cooking and eating at home? That’s just so wrong on so many levels. Besides, if you don’t want to go the distance, you can always find a pot luck in your hood or local pub or fellow workers houses (you know, the time honored ‘orphan’s Thanksgiving’ meal?).

            I was Executive Chef of a large, urban hotel at one point in my career and not only had to work on holidays but also had to ride herd on an all you can eat fixed price Thanksgiving buffet for twelve to fifteen hundred people who ate like locusts, starving locusts. The buffet table was literally one hundred and twenty five feet long and food was put out along its entirety and replenished from eleven in the morning until nine in the evening. Talk about appetites. The people who come to Thanksgiving buffets are no less than professional eaters and I got to know and hate most of them.

Anyway, these are the people that go to special occasion buffets (Easter, Mother’s Day, Christmas) with one thought in mind: to get much more than their monies worth. They eat with abandon, going back to the trough for seconds, thirds and fourths; they are, generally, rude and demanding and, specifically, without a shred of couth. Ill tempered, ill mannered and lacking fashion sense; their ilk have followed me to other restaurants that I’ve been forced -under penalty of dismissal- to cook or serve on holidays that no American should venture forth from their domiciles to observe.

 I no longer work on Thanksgiving. I stay at home and cook for me and mine (all two of us).

And… guess what? We give the turkey the day off! It’s a tradition of ours not to eat turkey on Thanksgiving; it’s our way of not taking part in the wholesale slaughter of a species for economic masturbation. I’m not casting aspersions on the millions of households that gleefully take part in this mass carnage; I just wait until Old Tom is unsuspecting before my personal assassination occurs; it also helps that Girlfriend is vegetarian.

So I cook and cook and cook. Sweet potatoes with maple syrup, creamy mashed potatoes, sage dressing, mushroom gravy, roasted parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, baked acorn squash with sweet butter, baked apples with cinnamon, oven browned Brussels sprouts, gingered carrots and buttered green beans. Dinner rolls, sweet tea and a pie or cobbler for dessert. Girlfriend makes baked cheesy asparagus, ice cream, opens the cranberry sauce, sets the table, lights the candles and graces me with her presence (we compete for cleaning and putting up leftovers). We generally eat around two and again around six thirty (somewhere in between, there’s snacking, a nap or walk).

About the cranberry sauce. Be it known that I have made cranberry sauce from scratch, cranberry relish, cranberry chutney and cranberry compote; however, when it comes to our table nobody, but nobody, does it better than Ocean Spray. We buy a can of the whole berry and a can of jellied. Nothing compares to when you open the can carefully and slide that sucker out whole with those rings and everything; slice it and watch those ruby waves fall like silken dominos (you know what I mean!).

And leftovers, sweet wonderful leftovers; It be like: “well, for breakfast let’s have some dinner rolls and cranberry sauce with our coffee…. No, pie, pie, more pie!”

“Lessee, for lunch some dressing and sweet potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce… maybe some green beans for color”.

Dinner: “YUM! Mashed ‘taters and gravy with some parsnips and carrots; hey, any more of that asparagus casserole? Ahem! Where’s the cranberry sauce?”

Later: “Y’all want some ice cream and sweet tea?”

Quite naturally we know what this holiday is all about and we do pause and reflect, not only of our great good fortune that fate has let us live and prosper for another year, but also for dear friends and family that, for one reason or another, cannot be with us: mostly because we didn’t invite them. Or they’ve moved too far away, bought the farm, are in jail or got a better deal going elsewhere. Whatever; it’s fine with—and more food for—us; were the type of couple that would rather be in eachother’s company than anywhere else, just ask our therapist.

I’m happy to note that one positive thing that we learned in counseling is that we’re two very different people who just happen to enjoy eachother’s company more than anyone else’s. No slight intended.

Hope you have someone that you can say the same about on this Happy Thanksgiving!