Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Barf Fest 2007 will not be held annually, for which we are eternally grateful

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.


  1. Thats why you should have a small turkey to bake for yourself. And tell the others, well you just want to have leftovers, you know how great turkey sandwiches are days later. This way you dont have to fill up there but show your face and then go home and really eat. lol We used to do that with my mom. She cooked a bird slowly at 250 all nite. Its wonder we didnt get sick . And then we had to choke down this dry thing with dark brown gravy. Mom would brag about it but one yr she wasnt too happy when I said ...well mom its brown cuz you burned it. :D

    Now my kids eat what they have to at the inlaws but wait for moms! Dont know what they will do next yr when Im finally in Ore. Gosh, maybe they will actually have to learn to cook the feast themselves for a change lol.

  2. My Mother-in-law came from the depression era and cooked a turkey with cornbread stuffing. I'm a bread stuffing fan but I can tolerate the cornbread mush thing. She always served mustard greens which is kind of like eating...I'm at a loss of words to describe the feeling of choking down the most disguisting slime I can think of. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be lutfisk. No Scandinavians in my blood so I am fortunate in that respect.

    My mother was notorious for overcooking any animal product. I think she had this secret obsession of instilling the importance of good dental health. I ended up becoming a vegetarian for several years because I believed that meat, poultry, and fish was supposed to taste like cardboard.

    Be thankful for everything that you have but keep the wishbone!

  3. Oh Sea Nymph, what we usually do is have a Thanksgiving dinner on Christmas. Most times, when my kids were much younger, we were living in such a small apartment that we just didn't have the room to store leftovers. And there was a time that Mom's cooking was much better, but she has aged considerably, and her cooking hasn't improved with age. Pennsylvania Dutch cooking tends to be notoriously bland, too, which doesn't help. This year, the twins have moved out, and are going to be home and I would like to have them in a festive feasting mood.....oy, and Lynndeepoo, what can I say but that you have my deepest sympathies.....Some people use food for comfort, and other use it as a punishment, I am sure.

  4. Jewel,

    My mother did not know what comfort food was. I just don't think she knew how to cook meat. If it wasn't for cable TV and The Joy of Cooking I'd still be cooking turkey so dry my teeth would be worn out from trying to chew it. My mother in law thinks everyone loves that depression era food, mustard greens and all. The one good thing is that she won't cook with rhubarb.

    Seanymph, where in Oregon are you moving? I loved the sourthern coast. It's a lovely state if you can live in a place with low property taxes.

  5. Im moving near the coast hopefully up north more , maybe near Lincoln City. My bfs family is around that area. Things are dragging on with the repairs to this house tho so I have no idea when Ill be putting it on the market. And with the market the way it is.....I dont know when this house will sell. But Im going....and how much I get from this place will determine where we land. :)

  6. One of my goals in life is to see how many Christmases and Thanksgivings I can complete during my life without eating turkey. Fried quail at Mother-in-laws for Thanksgiving; goose or bar-b-que brisket for Christmas.

    Your description of the dinner was the kind of revolting that I can't take my eyes off of even as the horror seeped into my consciousness.



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