We were all gearing up for Thursday, November 24, 2011. It started with the order for the bird a few weeks ago from the neighborhood butcher: Air-chilled and all natural please. About 12 pounds? Yes, please. Then the menu planning. My daughter gave her list. We agreed on the sides. We got some suggestions from the cousins. Yes, we will add lemon sandwich butter cookies to the dessert list. It’s a classic-must by now. No nuts on the apple pie this time please. It precludes someone’s enjoyment of the dessert spread in toto.
Then came the after-dinner short trips to the market several evenings in a row, to slowly purchase the elements of the meal to come. Then was the bargaining for when to start prepping, cooking, baking. 1000h? Or earlier? Nah! Not too early. After all, we’re supposed to enjoy the day while peeling, crushing, slicing, mixing, sauteing, and basting, to name a few culinary performances. What’s more, the bird has been adequately brined the day before. The beer had to be available in the fridge, bottom drawer, to quench a thirst or to encourage more conversation. The wine had to be within an arm’s length of desire too.
By early afternoon, there were the four of us sashaying around the kitchen island like a bunch of matadors circling a prize bull. Rihanna‘s latest album was blaring in the background. In between turning the bird, basting the bird, caramelizing the shallots, rolling out the dough, we chatted about family, friends, work, politics, childhood, and the ever-present now.
As the preparation dance transitioned towards the climax, the others arrived from far and wide. It was time for the celebration. The table was set. In marched the masterworks* to the biased audience of no less than ourselves. Through the early evening, we toasted, appreciated, and teased one another in between bites, chews and savors.
The denouement was a slow dance of taking apart, portioning and clearing the table. Deliberately, methodically but still thoughtfully, we put away what we could not possibly finish. There has always been something soothing about scraping plates, stacking and rinsing, even wiping wine glasses. It encourages pondering and savoring the experience of being in the right place and time and with the right people. Our families celebrate our milestones and achievements. So should we celebrate the family.
And then there were the parting hugs with contented smiles, the gentle strut to the door, the sound of car engines being awakened and tail lights momentarily illuminating the driveway. And the house was quiet again.
Mixed greens with cherry tomatoes, homemade garlic Parmesan croutons, and roasted spiced pumpkin seeds; Lara’s lemony Caesar dressing
Soy & Vinegar Roast Turkey, with Garlic Butter and Bay Leaves; Wild Rice with Assorted Mushrooms and Bacon Stuffing; Light Gravy from Drippings
Linguine with Bolognese Sauce
Yukon Gold Potatoes Au Gratin with Gruyere, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Parano
Sauteed Broccoli with Caramelized Shallots and Bacon Crispies
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds and Crumbled Chèvre
Sparkling Italian Wine. Sierra Nevada Beer. Carneros Pinot Noir 2007
Apple Pie with Dried Cranberries a la mode
Lemon Sandwich Butter Cookies (stars and hippos)
Chocolate Pot de Creme
Gigantic Sweet Green Seedless Grapes