Thursday, November 22, 2007

0 Of Thanksgivings Past + A Turkey Confessional

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Yes, finally! Some new material to write and the time to post it, thanks to today's holiday, Thanksgiving. What will this post be about? Why Thanksgiving Day food, but of course!

So, I was supposed to travel yesterday evening to be with family for Thanksgiving. Well, that didn't happen: my main squeeze, Erik, has been bed-ridden with the flu over the past few days (he was feeling very weak and dizzy), so I stuck around to take care of him. While I'll miss hanging out with my family and enjoying my aunt's Thanksgiving Day feast, there's a part of me that's also rather relieved that we won't be travelling on the road during one of the most traffic-filled and accident-prone times of the year! And of course, since I'd been expecting to eat Thanksgiving with my family, I had nothing prepared for today's holiday meal. So that means no turkey this year. Boo hoo. That was sarcasm, people. ;-) I'll confess that, while I'll occasionally eat sliced turkey as a healthy alternative to chicken, I am by no means a huge fan of turkey.

There have been a few rare exceptions: At a family Thanksgiving feast I attended two years ago, a family friend cooked an amazingly scrumptious and juicy turkey that I absolutely loved (Shock, shock!). Also, last year, Erik and I made a fairly tasty bird from scratch (our first joint Thanksgiving Day cooking venture!). However, for the most part, I just usually don't get that excited about eating that brown-feathered bird with the funny dangling waddles underneath its chin.

Even though I know it's not as healthy for me, I'd rather eat chicken. I can't help it, I just like it better. I'm sure many turkeys are joyfully jumping up and down upon hearing that. ;-) Not surprisingly, this taste-preference seems to run in the family. When it was just my immediate family getting together, my mother used to make chicken. Yes, that's right, chicken. Go ahead and scream "Blasphemy!" Whatever. Each to his (or her!) own.

Now, before that, when my sister and I were little, it used to be an annual family tradition to go to my paternal grandparents' house for Thanksgiving. My paternal grandmother would get up at 4 am to put the turkey in the oven. She'd cook up a veritable feast. She was a great cook and I loved many of her dishes, but sorry to have to say it, I just didn't like her turkey. (It was typically dry, and thus, hard to get down one's gullet.)

Every year, I would try to slip away from the table, unnoticed, hoping that no one would see I hadn't eaten the turkey. Most times, my "get-away" was unsuccessful: The older relatives sitting around me would usually demand a small concession from me, pressing me to eat atleast one slice, so I'd begrudgingly oblige them, so as to get them off my back. Looking back on it now, I think that, aside from a familial concern with proper nourishment, the relatives were primarily concerned with protecting my grandmother's feelings, as the lack of eating potentially could've been construed by my grandmother as an insult to her cooking. What can I say, small children aren't always the most subtle or tactful of human beings. After all, they are usually too truthful for their own good. Ah, the innocence (and bluntness!) of youth..... ;-)

Can't remember if she'd also make chicken as well, (which I'd probably have eaten!), but will have to ask my Dad about that. Anyhow, my point is that I didn't like turkey, even when I was young: It always tasted dry to me, but later I realized that it didn't have to taste this way. (Sorry, Grandma!)


For most of the years that Erik and I haven't travelled places for Thanksgiving, we usually do our typical, traditional Thanksgiving Day meal, which for us, means, Gasp!, dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Or if we're feeling really lazy, Chinese take-out. ;-) As most people (who've lived in America and/or know anything about Thanksgiving Day) already know, Chinese restaurants are one of the only rare food establishments actually open on Thanksgiving. Not even the grocery stores are open. (That's why, in grocery stores all across the nation, the evening before is such a frenzied madhouse of shopping!) Actually, come to think of it, Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where almost everything is closed! Even on Christmas, you can find the rare open gas station, dining establishment, or grocery store. But try to find anything that's open on Thanksgiving Day! You're really out of luck then!

And heaven help you if your car should break down on this National holiday. Then you are really *@#$* out of luck! This actually happened to my parents. Just ask them to recount the dramatic story of how their car broke down on Thanksgiving Day, not once, but on two separate occasions. One of those times was many, many years ago, possibly before my sister and I were even born. If I recall correctly, my parents had gotten stuck in Rochester in several feet of snow. I remember my mother recounting how it was an absolute freezing blizzard, the streets were a virtual ghost town, and yes, this was well before the age of mobile phone technology. ;-) So my Dad had to walk a few miles before he hit any sign of civilization. I think he eventually found a gas station or an auto mechanic somehow, but as I wasn't there and don't remember all the details of the recounting of this tale, you'd have to ask my parents for the exact ending to that story.

The other time we were stuck in Brewster, MA, en route to my grandparents' house for the Thanksgiving holiday. This particular occasion I do happen to remember, as my sister and I were present, albeit this was several years ago, when we were just wee little lasses. I'm sure you can just imagine how restless two small children can get in the back of a broken-down car in the middle of nowhere! You might even have experienced this phenomenon personally, perhaps as parents of small children yourself. 8-)

Anyhow, I seem to recall I even made a live tape recording of the event. Don't ask me why, but for some reason, I used to carry around a tape recorder with me everywhere I went, and this trip was no exception. I guess it was just a phase I was going through, and I carted around the darn thing with me everywhere. (This was around the time when tape recorders technology had just broke into the market at large, and I was just another fascinated, tech-toy-obsessed kid getting my jollies from recording everything around me. This little anecdote also probably reveals how old I actually am. Oops, didn't mean to do that. Darn it! LOL.) Anyhow, one of these days I'm going to find that tape cassette and play it again just for laughs.

OK, whoah, that was certainly a tangent. What the heck was I even talking about? Oh, yes, Chinese restaurants, and how nothing's open on Thanksgiving. Well, thank goodness for Chinese restaurants, or some of us would actually starve on Thanksgiving. ;-) There's nothing quite like a delicious, hot Chinese food meal on Thanksgiving Day! I'm being totally serious! You don't have to cook, and you can still have the fabulous experience of dining out when everything else around you is closed!

Yes, nothing has really changed that much for me in this way over the years, even after many, many Thanksgiving Day celebrations. If I'm not eating at someone else's house for this holiday, then I'll most likely be eating Chinese food as my de facto Thanksgiving Day meal. Please don't feel sorry for me; I actually really love it! ;-) And for me, it's not just about the mere act of eating/enjoying a good Chinese food meal on Thanksgiving, it's about the memories surrounding the experience. I have many, many fond memories of eating Chinese food on Thanksgiving. Mostly with either friends and/or with Erik.

One year, Erik and I witnessed a lively birthday party at our favorite, local Chinese restaurant. The party was a large family get-together to celebrate one lucky fellow's birthday, which coincided with Thanksgiving. The whole family took turns singing karaoke, even the birthday honoree, who was, unfortunately for those who were listening, a tad bit tone deaf! But no matter; everyone had a great time. We were serenaded by the entire family, who prompted us to join in on the fun. We sang "Happy birthday" with them, which was a blast. We even managed to get a brief lesson of how to sing the song in Chinese. It was great!

I also have fond memories of spending Thanksgiving in San Francisco with my friend, Dave. I think it was 1995 or so, before Erik and I even knew each other. We had Chinese take-out and watched movies on TV. If I remember correctly, he had 5 other roommates at the time. They were a lot of fun to hang out with and didn't seem to mind that they were practically living "on top of one another." They were a very happy group of people. I seem to recall all of them had to take turns parking their cars in their minuscule garage, which was attached to their even tinier, horrendously overpriced flat! 8-)

And so, the word is finally out, Corey, the "Gourmet Foodie With Attitude" (G.F.W.A.), actually prefers eating Chinese food to turkey on Thanksgiving Day. And on top of that, there's the additional shocking revelation that she'd rather not have to cook on Thanksgiving at all. Oh the horror and the injustice of it all! ;-) Yes, as surprising as it may seem, sometimes, the household-appointed chef just doesn't feel like making the extra effort to cook. So there!

Now before you go on the offensive, and jump all over me for my lack of effort or desire to cook holiday meals, etc., etc., let me just say that it's my right to do what I want. :) Erik and I both work long hours, and have full lives filled with friends, family, and lots of extracurricular activities. And even though we both work out on a regular basis, we're still fairly tired at the end of the day. Plus, let's be honest: We're only human, and like any regular human being, don't always feel like cooking sometimes. Yes, Corey the Cook is telling it to you straight. I'm sure that many of you out there in the blogosphere, are probably nodding your heads right now. It doesn't matter whether or not you are single or married, with or without children, a homemaker, business-owner, corporate drone, or other type of worker-bee. I think you can still relate to what I'm saying here.

So, what's on tonight's menu, you might ask? Probably steamed vegetable dumplings, tofu and mixed vegetables, chicken with broccoli, and some fortune cookies for dessert. 8-)

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