Is it me or is Thanksgiving one of those holidays that leaves you more exhausted than refreshed? I mean, maybe other people get extra crazy on Memorial Day, but it seems like Thanksgiving and Christmas, no matter how good they are, drain all the life out of you.
I like Thanksgiving, don’t get me wrong. It’s no Halloween, but inevitable historical controversy aside, I like the idea behind it. And the food.
I’ve been helping out in the kitchen ever since I was big enough to peel vegetables, but I don’t think I seriously got involved in the Thanksgiving feast preparations until I was a teenager. I like cooking — I’ve never seen it as one of the domestic drags. For me, cooking’s just another creative outlet. Which is easily illustrated by the fact that when I’m not writing, I do a lot of baking.
It’s different, of course, when you’re cooking with someone else. Especially when that chef is older and more experienced than you are. Even more especially when that chef is your father.
Yes, my dad is our primary Thanksgiving cook. Holy gender role reversal, Batman.
(My mother can cook, but really only on special occasions and even then she refuses to make anything other than lasagna, eggplant parmesan, or apple pie. Don’t ask. I really don’t know.)
My father and I get along, no worries. We’re both quiet, nerdy people with slow tempers. But in the kitchen — well.
A lot of this has to do with style. Although I reference recipes, I’m quite content to do my own thing when it comes to cooking. (I’m Italian — it’s really not my fault.) My dad on the other hand . . . well, he likes his measurements. And his precise stovetop temperatures. So, there’s often a lot of yelling involved.
Which is why we usually stick to our own dishes. I handle the soup; he makes the sweet potato casserole. He takes care of the ham and turkey; I fashion whatever faux meat I feel like eating (my favorite is the lentil loaf). We split the vegetables. And no one gets stabbed with a kitchen knife.
But this year, this year, we decided to attempt collaboration: we handmade butternut squash ravioli. We kind of had to invent the recipe. The pasta is easy enough, but it does require the kind of nitpicky measuring and attention to process my father favors. But the filling was up to me. I baked the squash until it was soft and then mixed in ricotta and parmesan cheese, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Basically, I added stuff until it tasted awesome. Then we made a sage butter sauce for the top.
It was delicious. And no one died! So, I’m doubly proud.
How was your Thanksgiving? Did you cook? What did you make?