Let's eat!

Hi. My name's Carol, and I love food. No, you don't understand. I love food. If I were on the Titanic, I'd be in the galley (kitchen) eating up the chocolate pudding and the roasted quail. I go to most events, activities and parties just for the food. The company and the conversation are secondary. Here, I'll try to document everything that goes into my mouth. Aren't we excited? Oh, hey, are you gonna eat that?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Early Thanksgiving Feast

Cooking and cleaning on Thanksgiving Day is highly overrated, as I soon found out for myself--when my husband and I went to a friend's house for some turkey and stuffing made by her and her cheffy son, two days early. Usually we're the ones humping and pumping in the kitchen, breaking out a feast for an Army but serving only two (our son eats the rolls).

Forget that. Get invited over to someone's house, preferably someone you actually like and don't have to be with. Sometimes not having a huge, extended family nearby has its perks.

Lucky for us, Christina -- one of the only friends we made and kept from our former church period, circa 2002-2008 -- can cook. She once prepared breakfast, lunch, and dinner for our church choir during the annual fall church choir retreat. And it was awesome. Delicious, comfort food with a gourmet twist. She's one of the only friends I know who knows what mascarpone is and how to spell it.

As soon as I walked into her house, up the steps and into the kitchen, I knew we were in capable, special hands. I saw a big batch of something I never see: brussel sprouts with bacon. There's a good reason for this. Ninety-nine percent of the population, for whatever reason, hates the smell and the taste of these vegetables. Not me. I can eat 'em crisp or mushy. My husband and Christina's husband aren't fans, so she threw in some green beans with sliced almonds, also perfectly cooked.

Truth be told, after I saw the brussel sprouts, that's all I wanted. Then, when I tasted the stuffing -- a Williams-Sonoma recipe, using leeks, sausage, cranberries -- and the deeply browned, deeply meaty gravy, which Eddie can't ever seem to master as well, I would've been content just eating these and nothing else.

But everything on the table was good. Everything. I'm not just saying that 'cause I starved myself all day for this.

Christina's son Kris attends cooking school, so he took charge of the finely mashed and whipped potatoes, topped with chives and reminding me of the five-star French affairs in New York City. There were yams dressed with maple syrup, cranberry sauce with orange and cranberries pre-soaked in cherry juice... Yeah, you better believe I ate everything on my plate.

The dessert was different. I asked my friend to avoid serving pumpkin pie, since we're not big fans and it's been overdone. So she thought up something easy to make and something different, using pumpkin. She got the recipe from Better Homes & Gardens. She cubed pound cake, soaked the cubes in Grand Marnier, added layers of pumpkin pudding and mascarpone whipped cream. So very rich and decadent.

As I ate layer by layer toward the bottom, I commented that it was like you're a little kid for the whipped cream and the pumpkin pudding, then you hit the end with the cubes of booze-soaked poundcake and you're grown up.

We sat there and ate in companionable silence (the best judge of good food) for a good 15 minutes, while all outside was hush and snow. Afterwards, we had coffee, watched last night's "Hawaii Five-O," gossiped a little, laughed a lot, and just relaxed, as it should be.

Sure, most of us are preparing to do just this in two days. But it was nice and refreshing to do it ahead of the crowd. It meant more, you know? Everybody should share Thanksgiving with people they enjoy being with, instead of people they secretly hate and have to put up with, like Uncle Axle who always farts in your face and thinks it's funny. Okay, I don't have an uncle like that. I don't have any uncles, period. But it must suck to be you and must be fabulous being me.

Plus, it was my birthday today, according to my late father. He and my mother would argue incessantly about when it really was. My mom thought, in Korea, the next day happened after the sun went up, whereas my dad insisted it was after midnight. So I can celebrate both.

So for Christmas, we're going over to Christina's again. No fuss. No muss. Just get seated, be waited on, drink more Riesling (my new favorite love), and wonder what the middle class is doing down in Queen Anne/Magnolia. Probably pushing their Volkswagen Beetles up the icy hill.

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