● By Style
Illustration by Aaron Roseli. © Style Media Group
Is there anything in this country that requires more effort, consumes more of our time, and gives us so little in return than…no, not the presidential election.
I’m talking about Thanksgiving dinner. I know it’s heresy for me to say, but I’m just not enamored with it, beginning with the visual appeal: Turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, rolls and pumpkin pie are all browns, tans and burnt oranges. Oh sure, you could say there’s a splash of color with cranberry sauce, but can congealed blood really be considered a color? As for the rest of it, my parents had a couch with the same color scheme back in the ’70s. I mean, even before they’re cooked, sliced and set on the dinner table, turkeys don’t exactly make angels sing when you spy them in the grocery store: Big frozen bird torsos tumbled atop one another in refrigerated bins, hermetically sealed in white plastic-like evidence from a particularly gruesome episode of CSI: Plymouth Rock (…and you know John Smith would be played by David Caruso, and he would wear stylish sunglasses that went well with buckled shoes). Put less dramatically, any food you can bowl with before it’s thawed should be cause for concern.
Then there are the flavors. Most of the food, on it’s own, doesn’t have any. Think about it. That’s why there’s gravy, butter and salt. Now, I’m not knocking gravy, butter and salt. I’m a big fan of all three, especially when my Thanksgiving dinner is covered in them. You would think a meal with this much fanfare should be able to hold its own for flavor, kind of like a great singer doesn’t really need augmentation in the recording studio. But turkeys? They’re the Britney Spears of the food world, and they need all the auto-tuning they can get. Granted, there are cooking methods that supposedly bring a turkey’s natural flavors out, like deep-frying. But come on. You could deep-fry a shoe and it would taste good. I know; I had one at the fair last summer…on a stick.
And there have been attempts over the years to make the main course more interesting, with perhaps the most famous being the fusing of three birds into one: I speak of course, of the famous “Turducken,” a frightening combination of turkey, duck and chicken that should just be called “Frankenturkey.” What’s next? Combining hamburger, turkey and hot dogs into hamturdogs? Or how about steak, salmon and turkey into steamonkey? See? It quickly devolves into culinary crazy talk.
Finally, there’s the Thanksgiving meal after-effect, which leaves you feeling more bloated than the balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but not nearly as light and airy. Perhaps to justify the fact that it takes all day to prepare, the meal is consumed like no other. Words like heap, mound and pile become verbs to describe how plates get filled. Seconds, thirds and even fourths are not uncommon. One year I watched my brother-in-law, Alan, make it all the way to eighths. Then he exploded.
Bellies strain, pant buttons pop, and with football on TV, uncles doze in a tryptophanic haze. For a moment, it seems the only thin people left in America are the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.
Luckily though, Thanksgiving really isn’t about the meal. Honestly – and I’m sure most of you feel the same – I would enjoy the holiday just as much with some chips and salsa, as long as the most important ingredient is still there: family.
I would just make sure I got to the chip bag before my brother-in-law did.