Hi again, interweb friends. It’s been a while! Last time we met I was driving cross-country with Joshua Rivkin, my extraordinary poet friend, and Special the Dog, my extraordinary canine friend. Remember? It was glorious: pedal to the floor, highway cops and border patrols, fast food joints and junk museums and the wide open maw of the road springboarding us collectively into a week of adventure, literary rumination and general high-jinx.
But this week? This Thanksgiving week, during which both my family and a bevy of friends will take to road and sky (and full-body scanners) to convene—drunkenly, and with many opinions--in your harried heroine’s humble West LA abode, anticipating a sit down feast of approximately 25 guests?
Yeah, that’s a whole different kind of party. And let me add: it’s exactly MY kind of party, indeed.
Because, firstly, Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday. No gift-giving, no cow-towing to a God or gods, damn few rituals that don’t involve imbibing or ingesting or lazing or lounging or chatting happily with loved ones….to me, this is a perfect storm of perfect.
Add to that my obsession with both cooking and eating food, and we have a winner.
This year’s spread will, of course, feature my annual favorites. You’ll find the obligatory organic, free-range turkey (24 pounds this year!), sausage apple stuffing, caramelized onion quiche, squash and zucchini with fresh tarragon, roasted bliss potatoes with garlic and rosemary, pumpkin cheesecake and so much more. But this year I’m also adding a host of new additions, in the form of dishes like sweet potato latkes with fried sage, baked macaroni and cheese, and creamed onions. My friends and family will provide their holiday favorites to supplement the meal: from Alexis’ pernil to Josh’s balsamic brussel sprouts to Jenny’s stuffed dates (and so on, and so forth.)
But you know what? We’ll get into specifics on this stuff later, food porn lovers, so fear not.
Most importantly, my mother and sister and their husbands are trekking out from Brooklyn to join in the fun. Kids, let me just say, I can’t remember the last time the three of us spent Thanksgiving in the same place. That particular brand of trash-talking and hysterical laughing and cursing and making fun of ourselves and others has not graced my Los Angeles table even once in the four years I’ve lived here.
Which is why, by the way, I’ve titled this journey the Bildungsroman Holiday. In a way, this week is my own coming of age. Thanksgiving is my holiday….every year I cook and prep and open my home to everyone, from new acquaintances to my dearest friends--even sometimes to people I’ve never met but who I’ve heard need somewhere to be. This is important to me: I do my damndest to make sure everyone feels at home, even when their actual hometowns are far away. But in all this, I’ve never had my own most beloved family—my mother, my sister, two of my first cousins and their families, plus my almost-sister Jilly—all gathered around me on this particular day.
And good god, am I grateful.
Here's a sneak peek of the horror to come in the form of a picture from cooking with Jilly last Thanksgiving:
Anyway, this week I plan to leave you with three particulars at the end of every entry:
1 – A cooking tip, should you desire one.
2 – A poem about gratitude, food or family. Since, you know, this is the BAP blog, no matter how much I insist on talking about my random life.
3 - A question, since I’d like to get to know you, too, new Thanksgiving family. Please consider answering and sharing a little love with me this holiday, even if we can’t break bread together.
Tip of the Day:
Brine your turkey, people! It’s seriously the only way to keep a big bird juicy without fail. There are hundreds of brine recipes on the Internet, but I go with a simple sugar water and salt concoction that doesn’t take away from my own seasoning when I cook the bird.
And here, a poem about gratitude, by e.e. cummings, and one of my favorites at that:
i thank You God for most this amazing day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything wich is natural which is infinite which is yes (i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth day of life and love and wings:and of the gay great happening illimitably earth) how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any-lifted from the no of all nothing-human merely being doubt unimaginable You? (now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
And lastly, your question:
Tell me how you’re spending your Thanksgiving. Tell me what you’ll eat and who you’ll see. Tell me.