Thursday, November 25, 2004

Food snob

Thanksgiving is a tough day to go to someone else's house if you're a food snob. Ahh, the hell with the vagueness: I'm not so much looking forward to going to my in-laws' for dinner in a few hours. My MIL is great - though we have very little in common - and she makes one hell of a dessert, but other cooking isn't really her strong suit. She grew up in northern Maine in the 50s, and is very much in the Betty Crocker school of cooking - lots of casseroles and dishes with "fixins" in the title, lots of veggies cooked long past their prime and (bizarrely) pickles and cole slaw at just about every meal.

Last year, we did Thanksgiving for the whole clan at our house. Darren's brothers and their partners were here, as were his parents and my sister. I brined a natural turkey and made fancy schmancy appetizers, including an AMAZING fig and goat cheese dip. Side dishes were straightforward, but with a little twist - the green beans had rosemary on them, I think, and I did something to the carrots that I don't remember. Darren's mom brought the mashed potatoes and gravy. AND I started drinking bloody mary's fairly early in the day.

It all went pretty well, though the only people who liked the fig thing were Darren, my sister and me. D.'s brothers were ok with the side dishes, but they're not such big vegetable eaters themselves, particularly his middle brother. In the middle of the afternoon, I got out for a walk with Sparky, our wonderful dog who died last December (there's a maudlin post coming about him soon; I've been missing him something fierce lately).

I have to admit that part of what I liked about the day was that I was in charge. I like being in charge. A lot. And I like having a house full of people, sitting at a table set with my great-great-grandmother's china and eating my food.

So this year we have none of that. Darren and I are going to his parents' in a few hours. It'll be just the four of us - my sister is off with her boyfriend's family in Massachusetts and Darren's brothers, who live in Florida and North Carolina, are coming home at Christmas instead. (My parents, as always, are spending the holiday with my dad's parents. As long as they're alive, my dad won't budge from New Jersey on Thanksgiving and Christmas.)

We all agreed to do a low-key meal, more like a turkey dinner than a Thanksgiving feast, after the hoopla of last year. Darren's mom is in charge of everything but desserts. In a fit of inspiration, I bought a pumpkin pie from a local piemaker, so all I had to do this morning was make the somewhat low-fat chocolate cream pie for Darren's dad. It's chilling now. We've got a bottle of zinfandel to take with us, and plans to eat at 2, then go see Ray at 4:15.

I know that it's absolutely counter to the spirit of Thanksgiving to be sulky about dry turkey and overcooked green beans, but I can't help it. I'm also a little bummed out by the fact that we couldn't gather a decent-sized crew for dinner this year. My family isn't huge, but my dad has two brothers, one of whom has three kids, so it's a pretty good-sized group when we're all together. So it just feels a bit alien to have a four-person, one-shih tzu Thanksgiving.

That said, I'm happy to have time to take Rocky for a walk on the beach before we head out this afternoon. And I'm glad that Darren was able to get out of working today after all. AND I hope that all of you have a warm and wonderful day, free of the grumpiness and scorn that is affecting me at the moment!