As much as I like the concept of a holiday that revolves around food, and as satisfying as the days of cooking and anticipation leading up to Thanksgiving are, I always end the week feeling as if I need to go on a colon cleansing diet. Because truly, I don’t really get into the typical Thanksgiving meal.
I don’t eat turkey, gravy or stuffing, and casseroles that use cream of mushroom soup bore me. Sweet potato soufflé is enjoyable, though cloying and overly sweet. Pumpkin pie does nothing for me. And all those Jell-o and marshmallow “salads” at the buffet cause some serous eyebrow-raising on my part. Come to think of it, the actual eating of the meal is somewhat of a letdown. Give me the planning and the cooking, the time spent with family, and the knowledge that for at least one day a year, it’s all about the food. But as for sitting down and eating, I get a plateful of food for little reason other than to not feel left out.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll gorge myself. And I’ll have fun doing it. Though I will sorely miss my grandmother’s carrot cake this year (that is what I look forward to more than anything – but alas, Grandma will not be back from Florida in time).
And after eating Thanksgiving lunch at my mom’s house, we’ll jump in the car and drive to my mother-in-law’s house to join her Thanksgiving supper. Though I may act like I don't love all this eating, you see how I'm not exactly turning down any Thanksgiving invitations.
But by the following day, all I want is a crisp, fresh salad, topped with a sharp, tangy cheese and dressed with a simple olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Last year, after wading through the last of the leftovers, I grabbed a giant bowl and tossed together some crunchy romaine lettuce with garbanzo beans, crumbled feta and homemade vinaigrette and sat down on the sofa to enjoy the meal I had been looking forward to for days. The carnivorous husband looked up from his football game and gazed longingly at my salad. “That looks really good,” he said, and sat with a pitiful expression until I got back up and fixed him his own bowl of raw vegetables.
This week, I’m planning our menu so as to provide the perfect foil to Thursday’s big feast. Monday night was spicy black bean quesadillas. Today is a colorful vegetable lasagna with lemon-and-basil bruschetta. Wednesday will have to be leftovers because I’ll be frantically trying to find room in the refrigerator for all of the dishes I’ve cooked for Thanksgiving. Thursday is obvious. Friday, we’ll most likely be too full to eat dinner and will crave only a salad, but just in case we are already reacquainted with our appetites by then, I’ve planned spinach and mushroom calzones. And on Saturday I plan to grill tuna steaks to top with tangy tapenade.
For someone who looks forward to Thanksgiving for an entire month and who begins planning the menu as early as September, I seem to put just as much, if not more, effort into fighting its after-effects.
But enough with the talking. I need to get back to cooking if I'm going to get all this done in time for Thanksgiving...