Food, family and holiday memories

Hope y’all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!  First, I’ll post a link to an entertaining cooking piece at on Food Network’s Thanksgiving horrors from celebrity chefs:

“Crimes against Thanksgiving: The Food Network’s 10 biggest holiday atrocities”

My favorite was #6:

6. Cranberry Molds

Sandra Lee is basically your perpetually drunk aunt who attempts to mask her crippling alcohol problem by giving her cocktails cutesy little names like the Mayflower Martini and then hides vodka in the cranberry sauce, like in this recipe

At my house, we stuck to the tried and true, although I made one change to my cooking.  After thinking about purchasing one of those roaster ovens for decades, I finally bought a stainless steel Oster brand one with a high-domed lid.  I roasted a 20 lb turkey in it with absolutely perfect results.  Talk about wonderful, it made preparing the rest of the meal a breeze having the oven free.  Now, let’s see what other uses I can find for this not-so-small, “small appliance”.

In case you missed this most memorable (and scathing) restaurant review from 2012, here’s the NY Times review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant in Times Squares.  For an appetizer sampler let me quote:

“Why is one of the few things on your menu that can be eaten without fear or regret — a lunch-only sandwich of chopped soy-glazed pork with coleslaw and cucumbers — called a Roasted Pork Bahn Mi, when it resembles that item about as much as you resemble Emily Dickinson?

When you have a second, Mr. Fieri, would you see what happened to the black bean and roasted squash soup we ordered?

Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste? The watermelon margarita? Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?”

Yes, I can sympathize, because food flops and holiday disasters become the fodder of family lore, never to be forgotten and oft to be repeated and embellished.  Once again let me offer G. Murphy Donovan’s Thanksgiving tale, “The Cranberry Rumble”:

” All family gatherings in the Bronx were special, but Thanksgiving was legendary. Holidays bring out the best and worst in families. Alas, there’s always some in-law who doesn’t fit in, some relation with an ax to grind.

Such was the case with Jack Hickey and his brother-in-law, Everett Olmstead. Jack and Everett were like oil and water. Hickey was the taciturn NYC cop with few pretensions and Olmstead was the car salesman from Scarsdale who thought any trip to the Bronx was slumming. Olmstead never made a secret of his condescension; a foible that the O’Grady women tried to ignore but never failed to annoy the sheriff of Rhinelander Avenue. Blue collars in the Bronx do not suffer snobs gladly, especially poseurs north or south, from Westchester or Manhattan.

On one ominous Thanksgiving, Mr. Olmstead of Scarsdale, sitting opposite Officer Hickey, made an intemperate remark about “dumb cops.” Uncle Everett had gotten a speeding ticket on the Bronx River Parkway on the way to the festivities.

Hickey rose to the bait like a trout to a mayfly; up from his chair, followed by a foolish Everett. The two, fueled no doubt by several holiday highballs, leaned in across the festive table.  Jack’s balled fist came up in a low arc and caught Olmstead under the chin. The uppercut propelled Uncle Ev to the wall opposite where he rebounded, spun and collapsed like a human fulcrum in the middle of the table.”

The only family occasion I recall ever coming close to this sort of high drama was my cousin, Nolie’s, graduation party in the early 70s.  It was a lovely picnic affair and I, being a young teen, sat there listening to my great Aunt Dorothy tell one of her endless string of entertaining stories, although at this point her pig heart valve story hadn’t entered the repertoire.  All of a sudden some of my cousin’s male friends ran through the gathering………. streaking.  My Uncle Nolan, father of my cousin Nolie, and very hot-tempered to boot,  was outraged.  He charged into the path of the streakers and caught one.  So, there stood this stark-naked drunk teenager trying to cover his stuff, facing the wrath of my Uncle Nolan.  My Aunt Marion, prim and proper to the core, told my sister and me, “Don’t look!”  Who could not look?  I think it was my mother, a sister to my Uncle Nolan, who grabbed a tablecloth, wrapped it around that boy and told my uncle he needed to calm down.  Great Aunt Dorothy, to her credit, with unruffled aplomb,  laughed and commented on this “streaking” being something different.  Yes, “Don’t look!”….



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