Red wine and kitchen devotions

In a few days, Ron, Josh and I will get on a plane (well, two planes, but that’s another story) and jet off to Prescott, Arizona, for Thanksgiving with Dad and Colleen. I can’t wait. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays as is — it totally appeals to the “food nurturer” side of my personality, but I’m also just looking really forward to seeing my family and having Ron get to see Dad and Colleen’s stomping grounds for the first time.

There is something about Thanksgiving that just makes me slightly giddy. I love the whole process. The meticulous planning of the menu, the grocery shopping, the favorites that get made year over year, the scouting out of new recipes to try. I love waking up that morning, heading out to the kitchen, pouring a cup of coffee, surveying the landscape and starting the mad cooking marathon that lasts until late afternoon. It’s a controlled, gleeful chaos, full of clanging pans, running faucets, good-natured teasing, the scrape and chop of knives against cutting boards, a rainbow of kitchen scraps, bumping into each other, taste tests, delicious aromas and usually a bottle or two of red wine before we even sit down. I find it completely energizing and a whole lot of fun.

In fact, some might find this sad, but the meal itself is often a bit anticlimactic for me, actually. That slice of perfectly moist and flavorful turkey steaming deliciously on my plate is somehow more fun when it’s an uncooked, butter-slick bird flopping around in the scrubbed kitchen sink, stoically suffering the indignities of us stuffing its every cavity with oranges and lemons and onions and garlic, covering it in Penzey’s Bicentennial Rub and pantomiming in a highly undignified manner with its little wings, usually while doing either a Swedish Chef or Julia Child impression. Or singing some unidentifiable operatic aria. Like I said, we usually get started early with the wine.

I come by this feverish love of food preparation honestly. My family, especially the women, have a very healthy relationship with food, and the nurturing of those we hold dear via loving preparation of good food is one of our simplest, yet most true, expressions of devotion to each other (backrubs and good listening are others). I have so many dear memories involving our nurturing of each other with food, I couldn’t possibly count them. Perhaps that’s why some of us are carrying around a few more pounds than we might need to, but I think it’s a small price to pay for the warm, smiling camaraderie and incomparable comfort of my family’s kitchen.

So, as my husband and brother and I get on those planes to fly to Arizona, I will be giving thanks for the faces of my dad and stepmom as we meet them at the airport, the tactical trips to the grocery store, the checking and rechecking of menus and recipes and, most of all, the hours we’ll spend before we even sit down to the meal, chopping and sauteeing and mixing and laughing and tasting and jockeying for counter space and cracking jokes. Oh, and, of course, that bottle or two of red wine.


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