I love Thanksgiving – it’s a wonderful long weekend filled with family, good old friends, and a lot of great food. Starting when my older brother first went off for college, the weekend became something more, it became homecoming. There was anticipation of his return, and the return of our other friends his age. It wasn’t long until our friends my year and I left Pittsburghand dispersed to various universities as well. But on Thanksgiving, just about everyone returned. Wednesday night we’d all meet up at our favorite coffee shop and talk for hours. Thursday, Thanksgiving itself, was usually reserved for our immediate family, sometimes hosting another family too. Friday morning our friends host the best brunch of the year, and we hardly have time to digest before my mom hosts her big Shabbat dinner featuring Moroccan tagine. Saturday is for synagogue, leftovers, and the movies. And then all of the cool kids go out for a drink or two at the least lame bar in walking distance from everyone’s houses. If I leavePittsburghearly enough on Sunday morning, I can beat all of the traffic and get back to Maryland in time for a late lunch and relaxing afternoon.
This year, however, my parents were invited to a wedding in Miami the Sunday after Thanksgiving. And since I have an aunt and uncle nearby in Ft. Lauderdale, my parents figured it was the perfect opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with them. Much to my friends’ dismay, I decided that spending the long weekend in my parents’ empty house without them would make me sad, so I would skip going to Pittsburgh. Since my brother was spending Thanksgiving in Chicago with his in-laws, I decided to stay local. I planned to have a restful break with Kirios, and his parents invited me over for the Thanksgiving meal.
I left work early on Wednesday, and when I got back to my apartment to cook. Even though Kirios’ parents were hosting me for Thanksgiving, I really wanted to make a few of my favorite dishes from Thanksgiving at home, so that I could enjoy them throughout the weekend. I cooked cornbread; brussel sprouts with garlic and bread crumbs (I know it’s weird, but I LOVE brussel sprouts); sweet potato soufflé with a corn flake, raisin, and pecan topping; and cranberries with pineapple, mandarin oranges, and pecans. Before Kirios could make it over to share in a dinner of sides, I did become a bit overcome with homesickness. But once he arrived and we started eating, I felt much better… minus the fact that I under cooked the cornbread to the point of it being inedible. Sigh.
Thursday morning I turned on the Macy’s Parade, relaxed, and took turns speaking with all of my family members. I stopped at the store to pick up flowers for Kirios’ mother, and headed over to their house at three. First, I should mention that despite being excellent cooks and having spent the past few decades in the United States, Kirios’ parents don’t usually cook Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, they went out for dim sum instead. And second, Kirios’ family does not like turkey. In fact, Kirios told me if I cooked one, he wouldn’t have any. (Not that I believe he wouldn’t have tasted it, but he certainly doesn’t prefer it.) So with me around for the holiday, they decided to cook a Thanksgiving feast, and roast a kosher chicken.
Kirios surprised me by baking cornbread, since mine was such a disappointment. His cornbread was dairy, since he didn’t know my mom’s trick – replace the milk with apple juice or cider. So I was promptly instructed to dig in on the treat prior to beginning our meat meal. When it came to the main event, in addition to the roasted chicken, our main course included salad, cranberries with fresh fruits, potatoes, Swiss chard from the family garden, homemade bread and hummus, zucchini with fried egg, and a stuffing inspired chicken risotto.
After dinner, Kirios anxiously noted the time, and we drank hot apple cider and talked until enough time elapsed that I was ready to enjoy dairy desserts. Usually somewhat skeptical about the rules of kashrut, they were especially considerate on Thursday, reminding Kirios its better to digest dinner first anyway. I was already pretty full, but dessert was worth the wait – Kirios’ father made a trio of desserts; an apple berry tart, an apple pumpkin pecan pie (say that three times fast), and a pumpkin pecan pie with a different crust. Delicious.
Kirios and I spent the rest of the day relaxing in front of the television, indulging in the traditional post-Thanksgiving meal food coma. We did have tea and fruit much later in the evening. But I don’t think there was any more room in my stomach after that. At the end of the day, even without the turkey, I was feeling pretty thankful.