A Food Lover’s Favorite Holiday

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - November 24, 2010
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Stuck in the house for an entire day, I rediscovered something scary about myself: I have an addiction. It’s called Food Network.

This is no laughing matter. My friends and long-suffering husband know I am always and forever trying to lose 10 pounds. Sadly, I’ve been losing and gaining those same pounds for the last two decades. And so watching show after show dedicated to food could very well be classified as a form of mental illness, or maybe masochism. It certainly is an obsession that tortures, teases and torments to the point of mind-numbingly stupid behavior, like eating anything I can grab in the fridge, and then heading to the pantry. Mmmmmm, I see sardines. Tortilla chips! And - ooh, look, Nutella! (A veritable feast, followed by the inevitable tummy ache.)

This time of year is especially treacherous for chronic weight watchers. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s - the sacred trinity of foodie excess. It means that right now every cooking show on television is featuring my favorite foods: turkey, stuffing, gravy. Stuff made with bacon. Mashed and smashed potatoes. Yams dripping with butter and syrup. And pie. Pumpkin? Pecan? How about pumpkin bread pudding?

I can guarantee I am not the only person salivating right now.

Don’t tell me you aren’t already planning your meals. Or maybe you’re playing it smart this year and making nothing more complicated than dinner reservations. Nowadays, you can even order the entire dinner and have it delivered to your home - easy. If slaving away all day in a kitchen isn’t your thing, these are perfectly acceptable Thanksgiving options.

Too bad I am wedded to the romance of the homemade feast. Sure, it takes time and sure, it’s a lot of work. And even though I’ve only roasted a turkey a couple of times in my life, I still want to tackle it. I have visions of pulling the big, fat bird out of the oven, perfectly browned, to the cheers of dozens of admiring family and guests. Of course, the turkey (in my fantasy) is perfect, with crispy skin and tender meat, partnered with the traditional bread and bacon stuffing (Mom’s recipe, of course!) and pulled together with luscious, perfect, rich golden gravy.

Too bad I seldom achieve the ideal. My mom still makes a better turkey. So does my husband’s Aunty Wena. So does almost everyone else I know. Somehow, my stuffing doesn’t taste as good as Mom’s. And my gravy - well, let’s not even go there. I had to throw out an entire pot of it last time. It was ... not good.

The list goes on. My sister makes perfect mashed potatoes. My other sister’s husband takes care of the Brussels sprouts. Need a pie? Ted’s is better than anything I can bake. About the only thing I’ve done really well are these things called Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Bars.

No wonder I like the food shows on TV. They place me squarely into the illusion. When I watch, I know I can do exactly what Ina does in her perfect kitchen, because, like her, I grow my own herbs. Only mine are in a black plastic tub and not in a picturesque, perfect backyard garden.

And Tyler speaks directly to me when he explains how easy it is to whip up something with a scary-sounding name. I do, after all, have the very same food processor, and even bought the brand of cook-ware he recommends. That’s the secret, isn’t it?

Also, like Paula, I am very, very fond of butter. See? I’ve got this.

Bring on the holiday feasts. I’m ready. Or I will be, as soon as I hide my bathroom scale.

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