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Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Post-Thanksgiving

We are going to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner. We have not been there for two years for T-day, and we have been wondering how my mother is going to surprise us.

My mother imagines herself to be in a hurry most of the time, so she always puts the stove burners on HIGH,  intending to turn them down after a minute or so. The rest is very predictable. The last time we were there, she had poured some gravy from a jar into a saucepan, set it on the burner, and burned it. However, this did not deter her. She poured it into the antique gravy boat, a double-hulled monstrosity that needs a full one extra leaf of the holiday dining table to come about when being passed from one end of the table to the other.

The unwary diners poured the smoky liquid over their foodstuffs, eagerly anticipating the feast. My niece yelled out, "Something tastes burnt!"  The glistering lights dulled in the waiting eyes as we resisted this attack on our feast-beginning; our eyes slowly moved downwards to inspect our own heavily laden plates: mountains of mashed potatoes and stuffing and veritable cords of turkey meat, swimming in a gravy that made us recall British Petroleum with a sense of dreamy longing.

To be honest, though, if my mother had not used the gravy, she probably would have frozen it and served it to the unsuspecting diners the next Thanksgiving. Last year she served my father a piece of his birthday cake from the previous year, frozen full twelve months. It was reported to be "good".

Then there was the year she melted some butter, and then let it blaze up, causing consternation and smoke alarums. At the present time, the City Fire Department calls up each Thanksgiving morning to chat briefly, wish my parents a happy T-day, and politely drop a few reminders about safety in the kitchen.

This year I went shopping with her. There are only going to be five of us at dinner, so we were intent upon securing a smallish sized bird. There actually is a limit to the amount of left-overs one can deal with effectively. Bayesian analysis holds that a normal group of T-day toffers can handle left-overs equal to 40% of original bird and side dishes, with a .05 probability of error.
After wading through piles and piles of frozen 16 to 22 pounders, we discovered a bin of what seemed in retrospect to be some sort of miniature or dwarf turkeys, weighing in at 7 to 10 pounds, specially bred for the smaller enclaves of gluttons.

So we got a 9 3/4 pounder. Of course, in time we realized what we had bought was a large turkey breast, not an entire turkey: all white meat. Not all of us love white meat, but the gravy may add moisture... if we do not compromise it somehow.

Such things are common in the elderly: the small print on turkey bags is hard to read. That and forgetfulness and being dotty and whatnot.
However, when She-who-must-be-obeyed now tells the story of "The Enormous Turkey Breast" (and tell it she does, for within the short space of 3 days it has become a bit of the legendary), she embellishes it with the story of the time I was full 29 years old, it was my daughter's birthday, and I went to pick up the cake at the store that morning.

The saleslady got the cake, opened the box, I looked at it and remarked how lovely it was.

When I got home, She-who-etc. had a cake platter ready, and opened the box to get the cake and place it thereon.

There was a horrible silence... I mean, actually blood-chilling and breath-congealing ghastly silence - sort of the type of petrified  "Mums the word!"  that the victims of Medusa experienced as they felt their bodies turn to stone.
The tableau of icing on the cake was composed of the pleasures of a golf game, and was titled with "Happy Birthday, Dad".

The 10 pound turkey breast was a blessing, for it could have been worse.

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