Friday, November 26, 2010

Why does football go so well with Thanksgiving?

I've decided that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It hit me yesterday as we were preparing to host another Thanksgiving dinner -- our 7th in a row, 13 people this year, 9 courses.  If I were to engineer my ideal holiday, Thanksgiving would be pretty close.  On paper, it's almost perfect.  Take a look at the facts:
  • Time to spend with your family and friends.
  • Not just an acceptance but an expectation that you will stuff your face with food until you need to unbutton your pants.  (The average American takes down 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, which means the average Minnesotan breaks the 10,000 barrier.)
  • A rare two-day holiday that always falls on a Thursday.  Ingenious.
  • No obligatory church service during which you need to keep your squeamish kids patient.
  • An opportunity to reflect on what you are thankful for in your life.
  • An entire day devoted to buying crap you don't need.
  • And, perhaps most of all, a 4-day marathon of football -- both watching and playing.
This is a holiday that only could have been invented in America.  The rest of the world doesn't know what they're missing.  It's everything a holiday should be -- the 4 F's: family, friends, food and football.  Not to mention the 4 G's: gratefulness, gluttony, greed, and gastric cramps.

For some, the prospect of cooking dinner can make the day a daunting one.  I love to cook, so I not only don't mind doing it, I relish it.  But it's not every day you cook a bird as large as your child.  Even smaller so-called "young turkeys" yield enough meat to feed a boat full of scurvy-inflicted Protestants and their geographically misnomered native friends (and later football mascots).

For long-time TriggPack readers, you may remember my turkey escapades from last year.  I felt like Ed Gein trying to get rid of the remains of that thing.  I just threw out the last batch of frozen "Turkey noodle soup" last week (one year is my limit).  I wasn't about to let that turkey get the best of me this year, so I got all George W. on it with a pre-emptive strike.  One might even say I got medieval on it -- tearing the beast limb-by-limb into its composite parts to create roasted turkey breasts, turkey leg confit, turkey stock and turkey skin crackling. By Thanksgiving morning, all that was left was a pile of dry bones.  It was like the basement of some South American dictators' presidential mansion.

The final dish was turkey parmentier -- a riff on a classic French dish typically served with duck.  Mashed potatoes, topped with shredded turkey leg confit, sliced turkey breast, turkey demi glace and foie gras.  Amazing.  My deconstructed turkey meant no dramatic unveil of the full roasted bird on Thanksgiving day, but that always tastes pretty crappy anyway.  I still have some left overs, but overall it was a success.

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