Every once in a while, I take a stab at domestic life, sometimes known in Italian as “La Dolce Domestic Vita,” but better known in Spanish as “Mi Vida Loca,” and always known in Delicious as “stupid.” I take a stab, I say, because that’s about as much as I can handle before I twist that saw-toothed steak knife with dulled serrations, rapidly yank it from side to side to rip open the wound as far and wide as it will possibly scream open, then pull the bloody, pulpy marmalade of a mess out very, very slowly so I never forget how beautifully painful it is to match 4” stiletto pumps to a frilly little apron.
To what I am referring, of course, is the fact that every year, I attempt to create one, just one, tiny little bubble of a day into the perfect Epicurious Thanksgiving by planning a fabulous five course meal: roasted butternut squash soup swirled with crème fraiche, salad with dried figs, fancy cheese, and fragrant toasted nuts, a gorgeous, glossy, green vegetable, smashed potatoes with aromatic herbs, and a roast turkey with all the trimmings.
Green bean casserole.
Green fucking bean fucking casserole! Why? Why, Campbell’s, must you, in all your brand marketing brilliance, partner with French’s foods and force me into a some hideous semi-homemade universe? Why, Campbell’s, why?
The thing is, I don’t understand it because on almost any other eating occasion that is not Korean, my family has a very discriminating appreciation for great food. My mother loves prime rib that’s so rare it might be illegal, washed down with a Cab that’s just as rare, but in a different way (then again, she can also throw back two Heinies, but that’s irrelevant right now). One of my sisters eats oysters on the half shell with a lightly piquant Champagne mignonette, but only if they are Ku(oohlala)mamoto oysters because she is picky discerning like that. My other sister has fallen in love with halibut poached in olive oil. For fox ache, my Dad knows the agricultural history of every vegetable on the farm stand, even giving in to the fact that potatoes don’t come from China but from Peru.
I’m the one who writes a food blog, but combined, my family outfoods me any day.
I like to joke that my family is dysfunctional, but what I really mean is I am dysfunctional. I am blessed with a relatively normal family, but what the fuck happens to them the moment the clock strikes 12:01 am on the fourth Thursday of November? How do they go from pencil thin asparagus wrapped in paper thin slices of foie gras and grilled to the point just before the fatty liver would melt lava lard into the coals…to canned green beans mixed with condensed soup and onion-flavored cheetos?!?
Last year, I almost had it. I thought that perhaps Dr. Paula Deen's prescription of double dosage bacon-wrapped green bean bundles had cured the Delicious family of the green bean casserole.
No. In the frenzied email/IM/phone/SMS Thanksgiving planning that happens every year amongst my family members (which I don't understand, again, because what is there to plan when we eat the same thing every year?!?!), I heard or read "green bean casserole" about five (billion) times. Loud and clear. I think my sisters were trying to tell me something -- something like "Don't try to pawn off some fancy vegetable on us this year at the Thanksgiving table. Bring the green bean casserole. With canned green beans." Over and out.
So this year, and from this year forward, I give up. I will wake up every Thanksgiving morning, medicate my senses with *ahem* coffee to numb the pain, and just happily hum in my frilly little apron and "make" green bean casserole.
It's a compromise. My family very amusedly lets me brine a turkey the night before, and resists the urge to scream into the kitchen every half hour, "Didja baste the bird?!?!" with some strange Asian remix of a southern accent. They are okay with my not basting. They have also given up on canned cranberry sauce.
But of course, I know better than to do anything but boil cranberries to a scarlet pulp with sugar and water and nothing else.
** a year ago today, pumpkin pie and I were more than just friends **