I wasn't raised in the United States. I'm of the British persuasion and 50 years into my life in the New World, I still think there isn't much as nifty as Thanksgiving. But to a point.
Although there are other harvest festivals, they pale before Thanksgiving: the greatest of the "Thank you, Lord" celebrations. Christmas became commercialized a long time ago. Now it has become politicized, too. How sad.
But that doesn't mean that Thanksgiving isn't in the sights of those who sell things. There's a car dealer near me who not only flies the largest Stars and Stripes that can be hoisted aloft, but he's got a blowout sale for Veterans Day, Columbus Day, Presidents' Day, the Fourth of July and, for good measure, he has offers you can just about refuse on Mother's and Father's days and, I suppose, Take Your Daughter to Work Day -- and all below invoice. What a guy!
Yes, he has ads running for Thanksgiving. If you rush out and buy a car you don't need, he'll no doubt give thanks. He should settle for turkey like the rest of us.
Not only does Thanksgiving bring out the marketers more and more, it also puts into the kitchen people who shouldn't have left the pizza parlor. Although it's a largely untrammeled and genuine family day, that browned turkey, that tart cranberry sauce, that fluffy mashed potato, and that oh-so-sweet pecan pie are something else.
Mark Twain said something to the effect that no one would endeavor to play the fiddle without some prior instruction, but that no such inhibition applies to writing. Twain missed something: no such inhibition applies to cooking on Thanksgiving.
Just before the Great Thursday, many unqualified cooks will be desperately asking how long to roast a turkey, steam squash, and chill a pie crust. People who never cook feel they must cook for the extended family on Thanksgiving.
Uncle Theodore's famous apple pie might as well have been developed by the U.S. Army for close combat missions. Aunt Doreen's sweet potatoes with marshmallows are, quite simply, lethal. They should be the first thing stored in the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev.
Adorable cousin Suzy, who overdresses and talks about her hope of being on the red carpet someday, won't make it onto Food Network. Her cake has the taste of its name: Red Velvet.
Dad pours bourbon into just about everything. But everyone pours his bourbon-laced carrot soup into any obliging receptacle, like the table centerpiece.
A vomitorium - not the passageway in an ancient Roman amphitheater where patrons disgorged rapidly at the end of a performance - could be a welcome room, after those who hit the range once a year have inflicted gastronomic violence on those who can't escape. No slipping out to a hostelry, calling for takeout, or claiming a fasting diet at the family Thanksgiving table.
You'll take what's coming to you and you'll accept seconds because this is your family, and they love you. Besides, once again, you got out of hosting the event, for which you'll give thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. It's the great American day and thankfully, my in-laws are good cooks. -- For InsideSources