Photo by Author
The holiday came and then it went. I made it through making a full Thanksgiving dinner. It was interesting, I can’t say that it was fun. Just that it was interesting.
I obviously didn’t post a daily recap like I hoped. I got to a point every night where I wanted to sleep rather than trying to come up with coherent thoughts. Of course, on the actual day, I put out so much food that after hanging out with friends. I just wanted to clean, put things away, then sleep. I normally don’t take the Friday off work after the holiday, though I probably should’ve, but I didn’t, so sleep was needed.
How was your Thanksgiving? How did all your things turn out? Was your turkey on point? I was happy to make a full meal for 4 people, but after doing all the cooking, menu planning, organizing stuff, plus getting my place in order for people. I don’t think I’ll ever do another solo Thanksgiving, or if I do, it’ll be way scaled-down.
I think a lot of people understand that any kind of big meal like this, isn’t a straightforward affair. I mean it can be straightforward if you just produce things that you don’t care much about. I mean, it also can be not that hard if you are quick and move well in the kitchen. I am admittedly slow when it comes to tasks. Some of this is on purpose. I just don’t see a purpose in doing competition-style cooking while I’m at home unless I’m getting paid. It was always funny, my ex-girlfriend hated how slow I was with getting things done. It is who I am, you just embrace some things, right?
Through this process, I did come to realize several things about cooking a meal like this and the people who you invite over. Some of these things I knew, but as I was telling my mother, at some point, you aren’t cooking for everyone else, you are cooking for yourself. This is especially if you aren’t cooking for people who aren’t exactly on your same level of enjoying various cuisines.
This is nothing against anyone, it’s just a reality. You have to know who you are cooking for if you care. I do care, so you must take things into account. You can’t just say, I’m going to make this really great thing, where no one is going to get it.
Imagine going to Eleven Madison Park and not being a fan of that kind of fine dining. It would be a joy for you, but your dining partner wouldn’t enjoy it. A case like this would be a waste of time and money.
The same thing goes for my Thanksgiving menu. I created a menu of traditional things, with different flavor profiles. Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Gochujang Brown Butter for one. A normal veg that everyone knows, but with a different flavor. These were tried, but not overly enjoyed.
I made a pumpkin dish, Twice-Roasted Squash with Vanilla, Maple, and Chile. Something you are familiar with, pumpkin, but not just given in pie form. Went off like a led balloon. I mean, it’s OK, not everything is going to be a hit, but as I reflect, I know, everyone loves mac and cheese. You put stuff mushrooms in front of a crowd, good luck with getting more than one for yourself.
You have to know your audience. This is the case when it comes to cooking, public speaking, and countless other areas. Being aware of this will cut back on a lot of stress. I figured this out the hard way.
Finding the right mix
Another important thing I learned from all of this, either scale back or find someone who can assist you. You can’t expect someone to actually want to help you. This is especially the case when your circle is full of non-cooks.
Even if you are dealing with non-cooks, find someone that will set the table, sweep the floor, go get ice. You see, non-cooking tasks alleviate the stress of making things look tidy. Having someone that does this, really allows you to focus on your mission, the food!
Check your expectations
Lastly, don’t look for praise. I’m not talking about anyone saying how great the meal was. I’m just saying about, don’t look for anyone to have the commonsense that you produced a meal that a lot of people wouldn’t stop talking about for a while. If you attend a dinner where you know someone is going to cook their heart out. At least keep that in mind.
Also, don’t mention how much food they cooked either. Thanksgiving is a production, so if don’t have a lot of food, then something has gone wrong.
I’m not sure I’ll ever do a meal like this again. I’m not even sure when I’ll have the passion to even produce half the meal I put out. If I do, it’ll be just for me because I at least will know that I’ll understand it.