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22 November 2008

I still have not decided what to cook for Thanksgiving. As far as I can tell, this is not the usual problem. The usual problem seems to be the stress of traveling and worrying if the turkey will be done on time and if the family will be sober enough to enjoy it. But for me, it is what to cook. Cooking for just two, but one (me) celiac and one (B) vegetarian.

Thanksgiving is something of a mystery to me. I did not grow up eating Turkey and cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, and stuffing. When I was little, we would go visit friends or family, but more often what was prepared was duck and spring rolls, or a roast. By the time I was in Jr. high, Thanksgiving was a quiet affair at home. I remember stratta, beef wellington, fillet Mignon hamburgers.

But Turkey? Roast fowl is something mysterious and foreign to me. I can conjure up chicken, turning on spits in the rotisserie truck at the market in Ixelles, dripping fat down on the bacon and potatoes. I can imagine duck hanging in the window at the Chinese butcher. I know what a Turkey looks like, wild and live and ten feet away, or frozen and wrapped in the grocery isle, or portrayed on so many television specials. But on my own dining room table, on my plate, in my mouth? My mind is blank.

And not just the turkey; the family politics, the stress of travel for an evening of reunion, the day spent in an overcrowded kitchen preparing the same involved meal year after year for an exacting crowd (my guests are primarily college students, and thus rarely exacting). Why cranberry sauce (or pumpkin pie) would be better from a tin. The idea of a harvest festival after all but the root vegetables have been harvested and canned.

And now, could I even eat such a meal, if I did not prepare it myself? Having to check everything, even the turkey, for gluten. No pies, no stuffing, no biscuits, no gravy, not unless they were made with me in mind. A gluten-free thanksgiving seems completely out of tradition. An imposition.

This is the first year I will be away from home for Thanksgiving.

This is the first year in my living memory that mother is making Turkey. Filled with citrus and in a wine-reduction sauce, but turkey none the less.

This is the first year I have felt a longing for a traditional Thanksgiving.

Maybe next year.


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