Source: The New York Times
Thanksgiving mornings were chaos when I was a kid, and my dad was always in the middle of it. There’d be butter splattering from the turkey basting, pans of mushrooms hissing. It was always right at the most hectic moment when he’d look up, tears in his eyes (from the onions he was chopping), and declare, “Thanksgiving is the best holiday, because it’s all about the food.”
What he was talking about was not just the meal itself, but the messy, convivial process of everyone cooking it together: the garlic mincing, vegetable trimming and pie dough rolling, all punctuated by the chatting, kvetching and endless debate over the paprika in the brussels sprouts and whether the turkey was done.
For me, the joy comes in pressing the butter into the flour with my fingers, trying to get the lightest, airiest pie crust, while my husband, Daniel, mashes butter and bourbon into the sweet potatoes, humming to the Bowie he’s put on the morning’s playlist. My daughter, Dahlia, likes to pick the leaves off herbs and nibble on marshmallows when she imagines no one is looking. As friends and family arrive, they end up in the kitchen too, wine glasses and potato peelers pressed into their hands. And just as when I was a kid, there’s the chatting, the kvetching and the endless debate about whether to put candied ginger in the pie or the ice cream — and whether the turkey is finally done.
Then there’s strategizing, experimenting, tweaking. Thanksgiving is the most traditional dinner on the calendar, so I like to subvert it just a little, figuring out how to take an unchanging menu and reimagine it every time without losing its comforting essence.
I realize it may not be like this for everyone. Cooking Thanksgiving can be stressful. Expectations run high, turkeys burn, pies bubble over. But I believe that if you engineer your day so you can cook with those you love and find happiness doing it, no one will notice if the white meat’s a little dry. (That’s what gravy is for.)
My dad passed away last year, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, so we skipped the big feast, sharing bagels and lox instead. It was too soon to do it without him. This year we’re finding our rhythm again, and I’ll host at my place for the first time. I’ll be making the dishes you see here, the food we love. There’ll be far too much of it, but that’s O.K. Thanksgiving, of course, is all about the food. [Melissa Clark, New York Times]