Tuesday, November 24, 2009

the cooking begins

Dad's spending today baking. His agenda includes pumpkin pies, pecan pies, and one or two rum cakes. I'll be prepping cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner, as well as strawberry sauce for dessert. The latter sauce will be drizzled on slices of rum cake and scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Late tomorrow night, I'll begin the turkey brining process-- the bird's been thawing since Sunday night-- and will also begin constructing the cornbread stuffing. On Thursday, I'll be baking the turkey, finishing the stuffing, and prepping peas and carrots. My brothers will bring over their dishes, which they'll either finish prepping or reheat here at the homestead.

We couldn't help noticing, while watching a host of Food Network Thanksgiving specials over the past few days, that there was a striking contrast between Giada de Laurentiis and Tyler Florence. Giada's Thanksgiving special depicted her escaping an intense family game of "bocce ball on the beach" so as to prep the Thanksgiving meal by herself in an atmosphere of peace and quiet. The kitchen was her sanctum sanctorum. Tyler, on the other hand, talked about how meaningful it was to involve everyone in the making of the feast. Giada's program tends to showcase her control-freakish tendencies, so it makes sense that she would want to monopolize the cooking and prepping process. While I wouldn't exactly call Tyler easygoing (the man talks way too fast), he does seem more the type to be comfortable with other people in the kitchen alongside him. It may be that he has a higher tolerance for chaos, or is confident that he can redirect any chaotic urges/actions to more orderly outcomes.

I have my moods when it comes to food prep, often rejecting help, Giada-style, in favor of doing everything myself. Such behavior is control-freakish and betrays a lack of trust in others. But I'm not always that way: I'd have to agree with Tyler, for example, that there's something meaningful about involving the family in the meal-making process, especially this year. Mom used to be the center of the Thanksgiving whirlwind; she was the one who did most of the prep, with peripheral help from us kids. This year, however, it's up to us guys to put out a fine meal that we all can enjoy; we're doing this for Mom, so in a sense, she's still the center of the Thanksgiving whirlwind, the hub without which the wheel makes no sense.


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