A scene from last year's Thanksgiving dinner:
We approached the groaning table, heavily laden with the most delicious-looking fare ever, at least upon first glance. The turkey, the crown jewel of the table, remained uncarved, and blushed the slightest kiss of beige, while the stuffing, uncooked and wet, ran like diarrhea from the cavity into a puddle of congealed and cooling blood, which surrounded the bird like a moat. We gasped....and timidly, we each put a small spoonful of mashed potatoes onto our plates, with gravy that came out of a packet, followed by the cornbread, sage sausage and roasted apple stuffing I had wisely brought as my contribution to the feast. Beside the tiny mound of stuffing, I put the disintegrating broccoli crowns, which had been punished until they were safely olive drab, and went out to the little card table that had been prepared for "our side" of the family, while all 9 of the "other side" were eating together at the large table in the dining room. I wasn't resentful. It was bliss not to have to look at the turkey. Or to eat it, for that matter. Emily suggested we pray, and in spite of my husband's family's complete lack of religious traditions, and the wretched fare before us, we bowed our heads and gave thanks.No one in the dining room noticed, as they were raucously enjoying their dinner. I tasted the mashed potatoes, which were genuine, and light and fluffy...and unsalted, unbuttered, and clearly had been mixed with water. Only my freely running tears added a reasonable amount of seasoning to the paste. My mother in law doesn't believe in milk, in butter, or salt and pepper. I swallowed, choking back the paste, and smiled from afar at my mother in law. "They're so smooth, mom," I said. We went home hungry. Rachel made herself some ramen noodles and slurped them with comforting satisfaction, while the noodles splashed their salty broth all over her cheeks. At least one of us was happy.
We have decided, no, scratch that, I have decided not to eat anymore Thanksgiving dinners at my mother-in-law's house. I love her dearly, as does her son, but we can't take the bad food. Going home hungry from what should normally be a jovial gorgefest is simply wrong. I can't take the bland and awful lack of seasoning that is the traditional fare for my husband's family.
This year's menu will not feature ramen noodles in any shape or form.