I spent Thanksgiving visiting my friend Christi in Phoenix, where the weather was a sunny, beautiful 80 degrees. It’s a pretty amazing way to spend a holiday–or any Thursday, frankly. There’s something pretty spectacular about being poolside in November, although, hilariously, the pools near her house had some funky rock formations that made the area look more like the polar bear habitat at you local zoo. I ran by some of them, looking through the fence at what felt like the people exhibit. Behold man as he lounges, sunning himself without benefit of sunscreen…tsk, tsk.
Christi and I were invited to her friend Jonas’ house for Thanksgiving, and despite the fact that I’m not that into Thanksgiving AND that I feared Jonas might have some strange Disney pop-star connection that might have hundreds of tween girls following him around endlessly, I was looking forward to it. It was a potluck, which meant that we had to cook something, and normally we are usually successful when we work together in the kitchen, we’d had some problems that week.
It started when we decided to make breakfast. Bisquick is such a weird and miraculous substance that can easily become biscuits or pancakes, two of my favorite breakfast foods. As a good Southern girl, I opted for biscuits that morning and we mixed up some batter, but it was too thin. We added more Bisquick and then more again, but it was still runny. As we were adding a still more, Christi looked at the box more closely. Now, the woman is a doctor and working crazy hours, which might help explain why she used the pancake directions to make biscuits. The real question is why I didn’t say anything when she mentioned that we needed to put eggs into the mix. I thought that was weird, but it didn’t occur to me to say anything.
We made the biscuits anyway, and they were…mostly fine. I’m not going to lie; they were weird. But with a little butter and coffee, it’ll get me through the morning just fine.
For Thanksgiving, we were responsible for bringing stuffing, which we narrowly avoided screwing up…twice. We started out using only 1/4 the amount of butter the recipe called for, and then, we almost cooked it for an hour and a half instead of for 30 minutes. Lookit, we are smart women, and we are, in fact, literate women. It’s just that we’re busy. And we’re tired.
Thanksgiving day, Christi got off work earlier than usual, and we decided to go to lunch. Finding places to buy food on a major holiday is always an iffy prospect. Surely not every restaurant in town will be open, but I also figure there’s some business to be had serving food to families with a terrible cook who might force folks to find food elsewhere. One thing we quickly found out was that Barnes and Noble was closed even though a large sign out front said “Open Every Day from 8 to 11.” Christi was pretty bitter about that deception and mentioned it frequently over the course of the afternoon.
As we drove around, our food options seemed limited to one restaurant, Maggiano’s, that seemed suspiciously fancy to me. Fine dining makes me a little uncomfortable, and since I was getting a cold and craving salty food, I’d have been just at happy getting a burger at a fast food place. But they were open, so we went in to ask for a table. While we waited, I glanced at a take away menu and saw a bruschetta appetizer cost roughly $25. Damn it to hell.
We got a nice table outside, and our waitress brought us menus that had only one page. On that page we were informed that lunch would cost us each $37 and would contain four courses. I quickly did the math on that and realized that four courses plus a Thanksgiving dinner that night was greater than I could comfortably eat. The problem was we were already seated and having both been waitresses in the past, we didn’t feel great walking out. So, we settled in for a delicious if somewhat oppressive day of eating.
The food was amazing. They had spinach and chicken manicotti that I wanted to keep eating. I had to stop myself though, since there was salmon to try and ravioli as well as ham, mashed potatoes, and at some point there would be pumpkin cheesecake and an apple crostada coming. We ate a little of everything and took the rest home leading to ten foil packets carried out of the restaurant in two brown bags making it look like we’d done our first round of Christmas shopping inside instead of having lunch.
We finished and went for a three mile walk that did little to prepare us to eat again. We made our apologies to Jonas and the rest of the crew shortly after we arrived, although I did have tiny samples of several dishes. I felt particularly compelled to try the stuffing because I wasn’t sure if it would be any good, and I thought it would be suspicious if neither of us ate it. Oh, it’s terrible? Bordering on poisonous? Well, I guess it’s a good thing almost everyone in the room is a doctor. I would have eaten some, but…
I tried to subtly take a pass on the yams both because I don’t like them and because food was quickly becoming my enemy. But Christi’s friend Megan made them, and she begged me to try them. I said okay, and they really were delicious. The problem was that Megan also made not one but two pies, and she was equally insistent that I try both of them as well. She is an excellent cook and while I loved her pumpkin pie, the derby pie (pecan pie with chocolate chips and bourbon somehow miraculously tossed into the mix) was also quite strong.
When we finally made it home and succombed to the carb coma that we’d been fighting since early that afternoon, I had to admit it’s been a good day. Christi and I’d gotten to spend a lot of time together, all of her friends were funny and nice and willing to play board games and keep the football talk to a minimum. There was a lot to be thankful for. Leftovers, for example.