Friday, November 29, 2013

Eating Out on Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Mine was okay.  My adult kids had other obligations (son and his girlfriend were at her mother’s house in L.A.; daughter and her best friend were camping in Utah), and the friends we usually share the holiday with couldn’t make the drive, so Robert and I were on our own.  We had a small, traditional feast with my kids on Sunday and weren’t up to cooking another one for just the two of us.  So we went out to dinner instead.

I was a little apprehensive about doing this.  I imagined that the restaurant—a well-known seafood house offering a traditional Thanksgiving meal in addition to the regular fare—would be nearly empty, the waiters either overzealously solicitous (because they felt sorry for the patrons who had nowhere else to go) or grudging and resentful (because they had to work).

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.  The restaurant was full of happy, garrulous people being served delicious food by a warm and appreciative wait staff.  Robert ordered fish, not minding in the least that he was missing out on the day’s culinary rituals.  I (who could eat poultry every day of the year) had turkey.

Here are some of the things I thought about at dinner:

            A lot of the patrons seemed to be people about my age escorting aging mothers;

            Many people did not dress up; a few did.  (The ones who didn’t got on my nerves.  Dressing up is part of how one acknowledges that one is not in one’s own house.  I wore a form-fitting Nicole Miller dress, so that I would be reminded to stop eating when I was full.  It worked.);

            There were several children on the premises.  All behaved beautifully;

            I sat near an older woman who wore heavy makeup and penciled-in eyebrows;

            Also, two gentlemen in navy blue blazers and bow ties;

            The elderly mothers who accompanied their families seemed extremely happy to be included in the festivities.  As far as I could tell, they did not send anything back to the kitchen or tell the waiter there was a draft;

            I thought about my mother but didn’t regret my decision not to spend the day with her;

            Sparkling wine gives me a headache;

            It is remarkably easy to give up eating a favorite food—stuffing, in my case—when you are gluten-intolerant and know that eating it will make you wheeze;

            Waiters who do not tease you about eating everything on your plate are better than waiters who do;

            Tea lights strategically placed make people look better, even when they have over-plucked their eyebrows;

            Professional chefs will occasionally put too much cinnamon in the yams;

            On the other hand, the sweet potato bisque was scrumptious;

            If I had had nothing else to eat except the cranberry-Mandarin orange relish, I would have been very, very content;

             On the drive home, I saw strip malls with full parking lots.  What is wrong with people?

All in all, I had a nice evening, because Robert and I love to eat out and the food was great.  But that’s not really what Thanksgiving is all about, at least not to me.  I missed my kids.  I missed being teased about the Cranberry Waldorf Salad Mold.  I missed 40s big-band music on the CD player and drinking in the kitchen and the frantic rush to make gravy.  And everybody lying like overstuffed whales in front of the fire after dinner.

It was, however, marvelous not to have to clean up.

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