Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Today's Rant/Rave: Thanksgiving

I think I may have mentioned that I have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.  I rarely feel one way about anything for very long.  Which is why I really love things until I don’t anymore.  And conversely.  Other people get to have this be a perfectly normal part of their personality.  For me, it’s a symptom.  Go figure.  This condition sometimes causes my raves to turn into rants.  And again, conversely.   So here we go. 


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  Food, football and gratitude.  It appeals to the part of me that likes to eat, watch sports and feel grateful.  Also, no presents, which appeals to the part of me that hates to shop and spend money.  Win win win.  Win win.  Even better, I get to cook.  It’s my day to shine.  I make *my* dishes.  You know, as in “Oh won’t you please make *your* green bean casserole?”  Or “I tried to make *your* cranberry sauce but I just couldn’t get it right.”  All about me.  For a change.  


Rockin' the turkey back in the day


I never thought I’d be a woman who had signature dishes, let alone signature *holiday* dishes.  I mean, in my younger days, I had been known to put some pretty interesting ingredients together.  Stirring a scrambled egg into a pot of ramen?  That was me.  Box mac and cheese too boring?  Toss it up with some salami and green onions and invite your boss over for a festive, spontaneous evening.  Hey, I was the one that started that whole “Guess the Secret Ingredient in the Guacamole!” craze from back in the day.   (In my case it was tequila.  It was also the secret ingredient in me.  Except that was no secret.)   Once upon a time, when I was having too much fun to pay attention to how much fun I was having, Thanksgiving was showing up at my one married-couple-friends’ house with a bottle of dry Riesling and a bag of carrots.

But as I’ve mellowed into my forties, I’ve taken my childhood memories of traditions like Thanksgiving, stripped off the horror, and remodeled them into memories that I can live with my kids recounting to their shrinks.  None of the kids’ grandparents are alive any longer.  Sad, but freeing in that we can put together our holidays in the way that suits us.  When I can remember that that’s what I decided would be okay.  Sometimes I'm stung by the realization that I’m pretty sure I’m not doing this right, followed quickly by the thought that I want my therapy money (and decades) back because I’m not even close to cured.  But for the most part, my husband (equally traumatized by his own childhood) and I take hands and step together into the hopeful illusion that we can heal ourselves by creating a happy childhood for our kids.  


With shallots?  Seriously?


So. Thanksgiving.  Traced-hand paper turkeys.  Dried corncobs tied to the door.  Cranberry sauce with the ridges still there from the can it slithered out of.   Everything we like, just the way we like it.  And then, the food snobs set upon us.  It starts innocently enough.  A magazine in the check-out line suggests water chestnuts in the stuffing as one of the “Ten Quick Jump-Starts to Your Sleepy Holiday Table.”   Then our local newspaper (yes, the print version, yes, we are going to hell) reviews all the different ways to cook a turkey and recommends “brining.”  As if.   But the cornerstone.  The death knell.  The watershed.  The Waterloo. 

The Thanksgiving Facebook Food Status Update.

Beginning around Halloween-time, I log on to Facebook and am seized by a spasm of inadequacy which invites a stab of anger to jump-start my sleepy holiday table.  Because it turns out that when I thought it was fun to cook green beans in condensed cream of mushroom soup with Durkee French Fried Onions on top, now I’m feeling very defensive and I can’t understand why.  I mean, I kept Velveeta off the menu despite my husband’s ridiculous love of the vile stuff, right?  All of a sudden I’m getting treated to one status update after another where foodies preen over their holiday meal in vivid glossy detail.  Salad made with the red quinoa they gathered on their latest trek to Machu Pichu.  Syrah-soaked walnut and Gorgonzola amuse-bouche topped with fresh-pressed extra-virgin snobbery.   Turkey that went to a Montessori kindergarten while eating organic brown rice before it died peacefully in a Buddhist hospice.   Each menu more out-land-dish than the last.    See what I did there?

Don’t misunderstand me.  I like good food.  I understand the importance of eating organic, unprocessed food that comes in groups and has nutrients.  I even get involved in my food.  I bake bread.  I make soup from scratch.  I don’t even mind it when the lettuce is spicy. (Seriously, wtf is up with that?)  But I have enough insecurity to power a major metropolitan area.  And I can turn that insecurity into bristling scorn at the drop of a hand-crafted Argentine balaclava.  

See what just happened?  We started out with a great big love-fest for Thanksgiving and wound up with this sniping, bitter conclusion about it being ruined by people who, let's face it, think they are better than me because they probably are. That’s pretty much how it works over here in my brain.

Oh, so we're eating flowers now?  Fantastic.
So, in an attempt to heal, I call upon you food snobs around the globe to set down your seafood forks and admit once and for all that on occasion you have driven miles out of your way to a McDonald's in a neighboring county and eaten a Big Mac.  Furtively and greedily.  In the car with the windows rolled down.  And let’s face it, bitches:  You banged the hell out of that burger.  So don’t even with me right now.  The end.


23 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. This blog made my day.I too love to cook and am sickened by the tales of outlandish dishes people claim to make,I love good food made simple,after all thats how we eat every day.

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  3. "I have enough insecurity to power a major metropolitan area." You know my soul, sister.

    This post is a nice little peek into your life. And it made me laugh. Full of win.

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  4. Thank you for the kind words. About McDonald's, I used that as a rhetorical device, and not literally. The post isn't about the food per se, but how I feel about what I assume other people must feel. About me. About me. About me.

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  5. Oy. Anyway, that was awesome. A Buddhist hospice! Funny stuff.

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  6. I'm so glad you're blogging! LOVE it. :-)

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  7. I am making Green Bean Casserole w/ French Fried Onions and it has its own special green glass dish! I will think of you while I'm making it and do a little dance :)

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  8. take comfort in the fact that you will ALWAYS be a better cook than me. and also better than me in other ways too. This blog made me stabby thankful. In a good way. xo

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  10. I am a total food nerd (I even have foodie blog - yes, feel free to shoot me), but I hate with the power of a thousand suns the trend of giving recipes fifteen names. "Buttered Sage Turkey with Rosemary Beurree and Confit." Damnit, you slathered your turkey with butter, sprinkled it with Williams-Sonoma herbs, and made some gravy. Get with the program.

    (That said, I had to send in my contribution for our potluck: Sage Sausage Apple Stuffing. Because some people don't like Sage. And others don't like Sausage. Some don't like Apples. I give up.)

    (resent b/c Google wants me to spell W-S right.)

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  11. You had me at eggs in Ramen and fancy boxed mac n' cheese. I heart you hard, lady.

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  12. Purely awesome! Needed this laugh. Love your honesty!

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  13. Love it! I make those fancy shmancy dishes but I still laughed my butt off. People get so pretentious over food! Guess what? It all comes out as s#*! in the end. I'm a foodie, I love ALL kinds of food, simple and fancy. Each has their merit. Half the reason I make the homemade mushroom cream sauce and use browned shallots is food allergies though... Celiacs gotta get creative you know, and if I'm going that far I might as well go all the way. Would I use Campbells COM soup in a pinch if I were able to eat it? Probably. And I'm not gonna lie, I buy the gluten-free version of box macaroni and throw kielbasa and peas in it and call it dinner. If they made a rice noodle ramen without wheat in that spice packet, I'd probably eat that too. My sister turned me on to your blog... you have a new follower. Keep on being snarky and brilliant!

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  14. I just started reading your blog (from the beginning I think which would be August) cuz that's how I roll. Your writing is precise and jabby and makes me laugh like hell. As far as the pretentious bitches on fb.....check out the other stuff they post. Pictures of themselves which always makes me think that the are absolutely totally in love with themselves. Pictures of their beautiful holidays. Its all to make other people jealous. Which always works on me and then I realize that their lives are just a shitty and complicated as everyone elses. Sorry for the rant....I love your blog. :D

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  15. Wit mixed with humor, baked in honesty with a dusting of sass equals perfection. Love your blog!

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  16. Wit mixed with humor, baked in honesty with a dusting of sass equals perfection. Love your blog!

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  17. Out-land-dish. I just... Wow. If I grow up, I want to make words my b*tches like you do.

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  18. I have, on occasion, driven to a McDonald's in a neighboring county and eaten a Big Mac--furtively and greedily--in the car with the windows rolled down.
    And let’s face it, bitches: I banged the hell out of that burger

    Are you happy now?
    I need to go to McDonald's....

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