Thankgiving Day in San Angelo has come and gone. The gravy war ended in a truce. Dad made two gravies: gravy his style and gravy Cathy's style. We also had two dressings: a cornbread one a la Paula Deen and mom's traditional New Orleans Oyster dressing. We had two pies: the sugar-free diabetic version Pecan Pie, best pecan pie I have ever had - really - ; and, again with the Paula Deen, that extremely decadent Paula Deen pumpkin pie recipe I had been eyeing but just could not bring self to make. Cream cheese AND half-and-half?! Good thing mom made it. My son had two slices. With whip cream on top.
We had two turkeys. One roasted per the traditional method but with some tweaks because of course you've got to tweak the system aiming toward perfection (letting it rest a long time before carving and serving was key to best roasted turkey ever - that and the optimal size). And another one smoked, by a friend of the family, who knew my parents would have plenty of people in the house and thought we needed more food. They must not know my parents well. But both turkeys were seriously the best ever. No overdone-ness, anywhere. No dryness. Just moist and tender all over turkey meat.
There also was a small squirmish over red versus white wine. Dad hates Bordeaux. I don't like Cabernet Sauvignon as a pre-meal wine. I pined for a Cotes du Rhone, and Dad let me break out a nice bottle of one he had nearby, before the French Chardonnay planned for the meal. We made it through all of them.
But because of the extensive "apertif" time before finally sitting down, we almost burned those Sister Schubert rolls placed in the oven at the last minute. Cathy noticed their absence. The rolls were rescued. And we learned that a little extra time in the oven makes those ridiculously tasty carbs even better. Builds up a little crust on that bottom of all that buttery tender crusty stuff.
And before that food day, there was finding out that my little home town of San Angelo is growing up. It has great new restaurants. Like blow me away good food restaurants. Cork and Pig Tavern. Friendly service but not consistent. Not a huge deal as the food had some serious standouts: Deviled Eggs with Bacon; Roasted Pork Chop with Cinnamon Butter and Asian Cole Slaw with Peanuts. And some type of broccoli that left me speechless in wonder. This? In San Angelo?
And then there was the old-fashioned soda shop, Stango's Coffee Shop, with ice cream soda classics in a very well done, not overdone, nicely finished-out old building on South Chadbourne. Added bonus: nice font styles on a graphically pleasing menu. I had the "Black Cow": chocolate syrup, root beer syrup, seltzer, vanilla ice cream.
Again, all this...in San Angelo?
(San Angelo Visitor Center, from the Concho River side)
(My favorite piece in the public art sculpture garden, in San Angelo's Sunken Garden Park on Abe Street)
Thanksgiving, though a major food and other types of consumption holiday, compels us to be thankful for the non-material things. As we all get older, we are clearly more grateful to be together at all for the holidays. Sharing bathrooms and arguing over whether the house is too hot or too cold are all part of the gratefulness package. For me, that gratefulness comes in the form of loving the raucously rowdy holiday dinner table conversation with my family that makes my son laugh like I never see him laugh elsewhere.
Some people think me crazy for doing this as we drag our full, red wine-laden tummies (speaking for myself) into an intense holiday party time, but I started in on a 21-day "cleanse" to detox the year's indulgences. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Today is Day 3.
No caffeine. No alcohol. Supplements. Nothing but protein shakes (to replace meals) in the first 11 days. All the vegetables one could want (some better choices than others), and fats are ok. Grilling asparagus in butter (in moderation) and garlic is not too big of a sacrifice. Looks like I may finally use that kale in the refrigerator after all. Kale chips totally on the menu.
As ugly as these early days are - cold turkey no Starbucks dark roast coffee is no picnic - I'm finding it's really just another way of making Thanksgiving last a little longer. Less focus on the self. More attention to conversations, not looking around longingly for the waiter to get another glass of wine. More really being with the people who make up the great food experiences of our lives.
Tomorrow is Day 4. Day 21 is December 15. Not that I'm counting.
Pensive mediations on food notwithstanding, I already know the first substance I will have on re-entry. A glass of Cotes du Rhone. Among friends.