IT’S THE SEASON OF FORCED SMALL TALK, “OLD SCHOOL” RELATIVES IMPOSING THEIR BIASED POLITICAL VIEWS AT THE DINNER TABLE AND DISTANT FAMILY MEMBERS THAT SHOW UP OUT OF NOWHERE TO PARTAKE IN YOUR FESTIVE SPREAD.
You toil away in a hot kitchen to prepare the silkiest of mashed potatoes, the roastiest of turkey and the picture-worthy pies that will keep your guests talking well into the new year.
But to what end? Due to your convictions of family obligations and trying to invoke the “Norman Rockwell” holiday spirit, you keep your “happy face” shimmering for those not-so-favorite persons. But then reality sinks in and the question is asked, “why am I toiling to cook the perfect meal?”
We will take a deep dive into the intricacies of putting together the perfect menu to subtly push everyone’s buttons while at the same time sate your appetite for the most anticipated meal of the year, Thanksgiving.
Make sure you welcome your guests with a fine assortment of appetizers and finger foods with some strategically placed worldly flavors included. Nothing will get your Fox News-watching grandfather more fired up than a “wall” of nachos or some good old Russian dressing dipping sauce for the crudité. Tread lightly here though, this is the precursor to the main event in the dining room. You’ll want to mask your shenanigans by working in some good ol’American Beef.
Keep It Spicy
Everyone knows that Thanksgiving TV is dedicated to football. But given the historical woes of our home team this might be the year to take over the remote when Uncle Stan falls asleep in the La-Z-Boy. Save up a good run of any cooking show featuring Giada Laurentiis. Her not-so-subtle neckline and strategically placed necklaces will surely capture some attention. She will have your newly-married cousin in town from Iowa fixated for long enough to get the silent treatment from his new bride before the ice cubes melt in the water glasses. Not to mention drawing ire from your mom, your aunt, your grandma, you get the picture.
Everyone’s got a young cousin who’s trapped in that awkward “in between” phase. Full of teenage angst, pale as a ghost from days spent shut into her room and fully clad in black to pay homage to her new obsession with Wicca. You should be sure to ask her to deliver the pre-dinner incantation, err grace.
Now that we have religion, sex and politics covered, let’s get to the spread.
Must a be huge, saline-pumped bird bearing a generic store-bought brand name. Be sure to work into your conversation with cousin Penelope and her fiancée River from Ann Arbor how dumb you think it is to pay for free range, heritage turkeys when they can just keep the price down by growing them en masse somewhere in Ohio.
Canned yams with marshmallows, frozen green beans with canned mushroom soup and fried onions, instant mashed potatoes and rehydrated powdered gravy. Make sure everything has lots of gluten and carbs for “that” aunt who is on her third husband and fourth tummy tuck. She’s surely on the latest fad diet.
For the love of all things Holy, keep the cheap wine flowing. This is the perfect time to break out your vintage Franzia box wine that’s been inhabiting your pantry since your last sorority party. Nothing lubricates a good dinner table argument better than copious amounts of white zin.
Oh, it’s gotta be the free pie you got for buying the store brand turkey. Nothing says “I love and appreciate my family and friends” like stale pumpkin pie. Put a cup of Cool Whip on top and nobody will know the difference.
You’ll never experience the full spectrum of emotion and family unity the way you will with this game plan. Just keep repeating the mantra, MYTGA. Make Your Thanksgiving Great Again.
ABOUT THE CHEF
Chef Sean Gartland is the culinary director of the Flint Farmers’ Market and owns Feast Gourmet Kitchen Shop in Fenton.
Be sure to check out his blog, feastonthisblog.com, for more recipes and cooking tips.