Let The Gluttony Begin

I find it hard to resist salivating while watching cooking programmes. Like a dog, I find there are certain things that trigger my reaction: when someone on TV tosses a pile of onions into a pan of melted butter, when I see tasty, seared meat coming out of an oven, and when sauce is drizzled over anything. I suspect that this is because I know so well what sauteed onions and roasted meats smell like, and can anticipate what sweet and/or vinegary tastes are about to be thrust onto the item over which the sauce ladle hovers. Indeed, it makes my mouth water to think about these things just now, as I type.

These past couple weeks have been especially Pavlovian for me because of all the Thanksgiving business on the Food Network. For two solid weeks, the theme was turkey and fixin’s: roast turkey, braised turkey, southwest-style turkey, deep-fried turkey, barbecued turkey, turkey with stuffing, turkey without stuffing, turkey wraps, turkey pot pie, turkey soup, turkey cracklin’, turkey gravy and turkey mole. We hadn’t even planned to make turkey until the TV so earnestly convinced us to do so. And thus, we produced a TV-inspired Thanksgiving meal for two, which actually produced enough food for six. This is what America is all about. Loosen the belt, point the tube at the dining room table and make way for the bird.

So the day before The Day, we walked down to the market to pick up a few things for our meal. Initially, the shopping list consisted of four items: turkey breast, sweet potatoes, potatoes and cranberry juice. It was to be a simple, elegant meal with a few favourite items and some homemade cranberry sauce. Though maybe we should get some carrots, because we kind of need a veg. Although we have those brussels sprouts, I could make those too. Oh yeah, and I forgot that I bought some pumpkin pie filling the other day because it was on sale. Plus that bread is kind of getting stale, we might as well use it in stuffing… and on, and on. Somehow, that quick trip to the grocery for four items turned out to be a dinner of way too much food. How much is too much, you ask? How does one gauge the point at which the line is crossed from sufficiency to excess? I think it would be fair to say that when you forget to serve a couple of dishes, you’ve crossed the line. We were in the middle of eating before we remembered the stuffing in the oven. Ergo, this picture is a fair representation of our meal, minus one.


There is also no picture of the pumpkin pie that I made because we were so full, we forgot to eat it. If that is not the very definition, the very essence of excess, than I don’t know what is.

Though very much in overabundance, we managed to pull off quite a satisfactory meal, if I do say so myself. Without having to worry about uneven cooking times or different parts of the bird being over- or under-cooked, the roasting of the breast was dead simple and wonderfully juicy; the cranberry-port sauce kicked ass. Slow-baked sweet potatoes and fluffy mashed Yukons cannot be any tastier than when monteed by a ton of beurre and then pressed into service as a blockade for gravy, protecting the vegetable half of the plate. That evening also marked the occasion for opening our last remaining Argentine wine, the Beta Crux from O. Fournier in Mendoza. This is the bottle that travelled with us across the Andes to Chile and up to Bolivia, that got strapped to the roof of our jeep as we crossed the blazing desert and the salt flats of Bolivia, that bumped along in the bowels of the bus that forded rivers as it took us to La Paz and then made it, intact, inside Marc’s soft-sided backpack when we checked our luggage to fly from Peru to Canada. These are less than ideal storage conditions for wine. However, we were very pleased to have decanted the bottle and found, after a little airing, a brilliant, well-balanced accompaniment to our meal.

As has been a tradition for the past nine years, Sam received his annual salary in the form of food, a small plate of all the things that dogs dream about for 364 days of the year. He set aside nothing for his retirement.


Comments are closed.