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November 4, 2010

Thanksgiving.  Bet you thought I was going to say Christmas.

First let me say, this is not part of the war against Christmas. I like Christmas, and I think it’s ridiculous to try and hide it by insisting a Christmas tree is a holiday bush.  We are not fooling anyone.  Let it be a Christmas tree.

But things have gotten a bit out of hand.  There were reports coming in of Christmas activity before Halloween.  Slow.  It.  Down.

There is an order to things, and it exists for a reason.  First, Back to School, then Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Years Eve, and then Valentines Day.  I am fine with planning for Thanksgiving starting on November 1.  But I am not fine with Black Friday sales on Thursday.

Let each holiday have its moment, undisturbed by the one that follows on its heels.

Christmas will have its time. I’m going to be encouraging people to have a goose.  But now it’s time to get excited about Thanksgiving.  Do you know what you are doing?

My Aunt N will continue the tradition that she started many years ago, and host the dinner at her house in Connecticut.  This is great news for a few reasons.

1)    She makes the best stuffing ever.
2)    My Cousin S will be back from Sicily, and he usually comes with tasty treats.
3)    We’ll get some pizza from New Haven.

There is that part I suppose about spending time with family, and all that.  But you don’t care about that, you want to hear about the food.

Last year was a sad exception where we didn’t all get together, and I was left to my own devices to make her stuffing.  Thanks to the internet I did a passable job especially considering I didn’t actually have a turkey to stuff.  All the same, she will likely do a version that gets cooked in the bird’s cavity for all those (like me) who are not afraid of a little potential gastrointestinal discomfort in the pursuit of deliciousness. 

The last thing I got from Italy thanks to my cousin was this bag of dried and fried Italian red peppers. Actually they were a bit of a hand-me-down from Aunt N who got a big care package and was good enough to share.  One year when he was working at the gourmet market down in Philly, Cousin S brought up some Jamón Ibérico de Bellota.  He is very good to all of us.

I don’t think he’d be able to get a spleen sandwich past customs.  Apparently they are all the rage on the island.  Anyhow, it probably wouldn’t fare very well on the plane.  But I can’t wait to see what Cousin S has in store for us this time.  Maybe he’ll even arrive with that guest post he told me he’d write about cheese.

And then of course there is the pizza.

The Connecticut members of my family are disciples of Pepe’s.  Still, the last time I was down there, a plan was hatched to get some pizza from Modern in addition to Pepe’s and eat them back to back.  This appealed to both my gluttonous and scientific natures, except sadly we were not able to execute the plan.  Mothers got in the way.  Maybe this will be the trip?

It’s always a problem figuring out what to bring.  Generally that means I have brought wine, which I don’t mind doing.  A couple of years ago I brought some Sicilian wines and some Argentinian wines, because those regions were where our missing family members were living.  And if we couldn’t have them at the table, at least we could have something from where they were.

I’ll start thinking about wine pairings the closer we get to the event.  I may even start talking about side dishes.  But over the next few weeks you will not read anything about turkey.  Ham, maybe.  But not turkey.  To me, it is the necessary evil of the meal.  It is a beautifully browned and large joint of meat to crown all the jewels that are the sides.

The only thing that could get me talking turkey is a heritage turkey.  Actually, that probably merits its own post, especially if they are not that well known in these parts.  I’ll have to do a bit of research and get back to you on that.

But in the meantime, take down the stockings and the holly.  All in good time.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2010 9:02 am

    This article from November’s Bon Appetit may be a good ground zero for your turkey research.

    http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2010/10/a-case-for-a-140-turkey.html

    And I refuse (other than the annual epic Holiday card photoshoot) to acknowledge Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Thanks for the support.

  2. November 4, 2010 8:35 pm

    I’m not terribly enthused about Thanksgiving this year. I’m a newlywed, and due to a number of circumstances my husband and I are spending Thanksgiving apart (he’ll be in Disney World with his family; my vacation was denied due to workload issues; he had already planned his travel for a book he is writing to coincide with the trip, so he really can’t change his plans to be up here instead). This is the first year in 4 years I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with my family, (because I’ve done Disney for the past 3 years!) and there’s somewhat of a cold war going out between some of my relations, which is putting a strain on the day. In other words, if any year were the year to skip, it would be this year. Blah.

    However, because we’re newlyweds, it’s the first year I don’t feel guilty about spending Christmas with him. I took Christmas week off (yep, my vacation was denied for Thanksgiving, but not for Christmas, and I didn’t ask for Christmas week until after I had been denied the Thanksgiving trip), so we can spend some time enjoying the holiday together doing couply Christmasy things. I may, however, steal some of your wine pairings and side dishes for my MIL … she does turkey on Christmas (I would LOVE a goose but she doesn’t care for it, and she does the cooking), and it’s quite delicious.

  3. November 4, 2010 8:50 pm

    I want to drink beer with you. Sorry, I totally don’t mean that in a creepy way. One may not even think about Christmas, play Christmas music or hang a single decoration until the day after Thanksgiving. Those are the rules. Aren’t they? They used to be… when things made sense. And when I rule the world, those will be the rules again.

    We’re not quite sure what we’re doing for Happy Turkey… we never do anymore since moving so far from home but this year we’re sneaking away to Southern Vermont for a week while my work is closed. K will work from the Albany office of his company. We’re renting a house and planning to cook. Lots. Stuffed shells (made by my mom when she comes to visit) and I’m sure lots of holiday fare (the sans meat kind, though). Oh dear… you’ve made me hungry for a holiday feast.

  4. November 4, 2010 8:56 pm

    I can not believe that there are already two radio stations playing round-the-clock Christmas music already.

    Thanksgiving is at our house. This will be my 10th time preparing the meal. Time flies.

  5. Ellen Whitby permalink
    November 4, 2010 11:59 pm

    I, too, have already encountered Christmas music at the store. And while I was quite annoyed to have heard it, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the “It’s the Small World After All” that plays endlessly at the Disney Store. I really feel for those who work there.

    Any thoughts about a “turducken”. I’d love to make (or get) one of those, especially for my hubby, who would love it. And his birthday is coming up. That would be a treat.

    • mirdreams permalink
      November 5, 2010 6:25 pm

      I’ve done turduckens from the http://www.cajungrocer.com for the last few years. They’re very good, just make sure you give it enough time to thaw. We especially liked the Seafood Jambalaya, or if you have fewer people their turducken roll works well, though it’s much less impressive looking. Once you’re on their mailing list I recommend waiting for a sale (usually in spring or summer) and ordering your Thanksgiving bird, it’ll delivered on the date you choose.

  6. Elyse permalink
    November 5, 2010 12:13 pm

    Thanksgiving will be in Albany this year for the first time- my whole side of the family will be coming in addition to a few friends of my sister’s (I haven’t told my husband about the friends yet…I’m going to have to slip it into the conversation after a few glasses of wine- he is already a little overwhelmed).

    I’m hoping for a repeat of this magnificent twist on turkey that he prepared several years ago- he actually DEBONED the turkey and stuffed it with sort of a forcemeat he made from various types of meats including lamb kidney. It was awesome. My husband rules.

  7. November 7, 2010 8:40 am

    Speaking of turkey, if I see one more magazine cover or blog post on how to cook same, I am going to spit.

  8. Cousin S permalink
    November 10, 2010 1:49 pm

    Cousin/Prof.,
    1) Got any special requests from the Mezzogiorno? I’ll be scouring the markets in Palermo this weekend, so speak now, or forever hold your slice of Fiore Sardo.
    2) Can’t wait to see you guys. I think I’ll be making two trips to Pepe’s (one for our “research” project, and one with some old friends). I am down for the pizza challenge though. How about Louis’ Lunch for an aperitivo?
    3) When I tell people in Sicily that I am from Philadelphia, they hold one hand open, palm up and make a spreading motion with their other hand (like Philadelphia cream cheese). Either that or they punch me and ask if I know Rocky Balboa.
    4) Finally, fussy in Italian is esigente.

    Ci vediamo a presto,
    Cousin S

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