Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Mock Thanksgiving

thanksgiving family
Originally uploaded by Kit Pollard.

Amateur Gourmet is making me jealous. And it's not just his book deal. He cooked himself a pre-Thanksgiving dinner. I wanted to do that, too, but I sort of forgot and now I don't have time.

When I first started cooking, I very badly wanted to start a tradition of hosting a mock Thanksgiving for my friends, so we could all experience the joy of a holiday with just our friends, like the characters on sitcoms have.

I took this noble goal and made it a reality. The first year, which was also the year I learned to cook, I made dinner for Cooper, his roommates Bryan and Sam, Bryan's brother Steve and Steve's then-fiance (now wife) Sheila. The six of us ate together all the time, so it was a pretty safe crowd.

Good thing, too, as Sam and I dipped into the Beaujolais Nouveau a teensy bit early, so by the time I actually sat down to dinner I was, well, less than hungry. That year I also somehow stuffed the turkey into the oven in such a way that the top of the bird hit the heating element. Fortunately, everyone pretended it was normal to eat a turkey with big black heating element-shaped tatoo.

The following year was a little better. Our group grew by one, adding Bryan's girlfriend, Margaret. I didn't drink on an empty stomach, and I moved the racks in the oven to give the turkey a little breathing room. The only misstep that year involved homemade cranberry sauce that pretty much definied the word "tart." Fortunately, I had some backup in a can.

Unfortunately, that's where the tradition ended. Sam finished school and took a job in another state. Everyone else moved out of a five mile radius (and we are nothing if not lazy.) This year, I had great intentions, but terrible follow through.

Next year, though, I plan to reinstate. Mock Thanksgiving is a great experience for me because cooking a big, elaborate, ritual-filled dinner is so incredibly gratifying. But I like to think that it's also fun for the guests, who get a chance to give thanks in a situation that completely lacks the underlying tension of a family dinner. Everyone loves family dinners - I certainly do - but they're not always relaxing.

And giving more thanks is never a bad thing, right?

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