Food for Thought and Thoughts for Food
We've all had that one meal that's just perfect. That one thing we can eat anytime. This is for Quibblo's story contest, and I hope I can describe my favorites well! Let me know what you think!
Sweet, Savory, and Sauteed
I love Thanksgiving dinner. I've never celebrated the American Thanksgiving, but I love the foods associated with that holiday. I remember my two Aunt Lindas, my mom, and my grandmother gathered in the kitchen, cooking.
I was ten years old.
My grandpa held his Bud light in his left hand, the condensation forming on the sides of the bottle which had just come out of the refrigerator. Drops were slowly breaking free from the bottle's mainland, falling to their demise which lay in the form of an oriental rug below. My Uncle Kim's Corona was acting in a similar manner. However, my Uncle Desi's red wine sat in his hand elegantly and confidently. Every now and again he took a gentle sip from the rounded edges.
When the women first began prepping, the scent of malt and fermented grapes filled my nose, and I took every breath in slowly, savoring the smells and soon-to-be memories of an unforgettable turkey dinner.
I like to think savory meals are comprised of transformations rather than cooking. Like a chunky caterpillar morphing into an elegant Monarch butterfly, beautiful dinners and masterful cooking transformed sweet potatoes and spices into a single pie; they were no longer sweet potatoes and spices. The two became one.
The turkey was the grandest transformation in my opinion. My first impression was that turkey was merely a slimy and inedible mess, the pink flesh raw and exposing. But every time I looked at it sitting quietly in the oven surrounded by an array of rosemary, lemon, orange, and thyme, I grew more fond of it; the slightly browned skin, the smell and sound of the sweet and savory spices mixing when I awoke the next morning; all of this helped me appreciate the true art of the turkey.
Bunches of ingredients that seemed worlds away from one another all slowly came together at the dining table. Slow-cooked kale and soft white bread met with some spices and onion to bring us one of my aunt's rendition of the traditional stuffing. Sturdy Yukon potatoes mashed with homemade rosemary butter and milk that I imagine being poured into the spaces of the potatoes in slow motion and then folded gently into the starchy root provided a magical mountain of mashed potatoes. Sautéed greens that I would normally turn my head away from seemed enchanted by some combination of garlic, sugar and thyme. Cornmeal and broccoli were magnificently transformed into warm and comforting bread; soft to the touch and slightly crumbly, it melted in my mouth when I stole a bite before our meal.
Then there was the cranberry sauce. I could sense no magic and no enchantment in the blood-red pool of cranberries. They carried no sweet or savory scent, and they looked like nothing more than a soup of blood.
But when I tasted them I was amazed. The sauce was slightly tart, which complimented the rest of the savory and sweet foods perfectly. It was by itself the counterpart of our meal; a portion so small I nearly overlooked its power and contribution to the meal. The cranberry sauce was the simplest and yet the ultimate part of the meal; it turned a savory and comforting meal into the most wonderful, perfect meal I had ever experienced.
Before we congregated at the table my mother and I set it. We threw a simple white tablecloth over it. The dishes we used were an ivory color with a light design around their edges. The dinnerware was smooth and light, yet it had powerful mechanical tools within, making our dining look delicate and our eating seem lovely. The napkins we used were cloth, and for the remainder of the night I felt I was a princess in my shorts and t-shirt, enchanted by a new and beautiful meal.
My grandfather cut into the turkey. Everyone was holding their breath, though I did not understand at the time. The turkey was truly a difficult bird to cook, and they were afraid it would be too dry. He cut into it easily, the knife and turkey like putty in his hands. Instantly everyone let out a sigh of relief. We said a prayer and passed the food; it was difficult to wait for everyone's plate to be full.
My aunt suddenly stood up. She had forgotten the gravy. She hurried into the kitchen and brought out a dish that reminded me of a genie's lamp. So that's what that was for. The women had made the gravy themselves, and it was rich and smooth; it even seemed to flow in my younger brother's hands.
Reality was magical and dinner beckoned me like never before that night. I fell in love with my memories and cherish them every day, grateful for the people I'm close to and the dining I've been able to experience. When a meal is prepared by masterful hands, it seems that nothing can go wrong. The scent of the food still calls on me in my dreams, and the laughter and love spread that night are memories I will never forget.