[Editor's Note: The story
you are about to read is 100% totally true.
Every last word of it.]
The very mention of this food
fanatic's holiday can bring a shiver of fear
to any member of a dysfunctional family
then again, isnt that really all of us?
Turkey Day is the first major
holiday of the Major Holiday Season and
sets the tone for the brouhahas, arguments,
misunderstandings, slights and downright lies
that are sure to bubble to the surface through
the days, weeks and months to follow.
For The Hungover Gourmet, Thanksgiving
is spent not unlike the Turkey Days of my youth...sauteing
the onions, celery, garlic and sweet sausage
for the secret Savory Stuffing...counting the
minutes till I can sit down with the scrumptious
turkey liver cooked in fresh herbs and red wine...and
living for that moment when the jellied cranberry
sauce s-l-o-w-l-y slides from its tin can tomb
with a delightful "hwuck."
But, there've been some changes
in the years since I was released from Mama
Nitrate's apron strings. Sure, I still get up
at ungodly hours to get the whole meal started.
But you're more likely to hear the tunes of
Rick Springfield wafting from the speakers than
those of Mitch Miller. Yes, we still thrill
to the unpredictable "pop" of a can
of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. However, the familiar
site of 2-liter Triple Cola bottles has been
replaced by row upon row of chewy Kendall Jackson
Zinfandel and fruity (without being offensive)
David Bruce Pinot Noir.
Upon reflection, the most important
step in making my own mark on this Nitrate Family
Tradition has been the various menu broadening
inroads. It goes without saying that turkey,
stuffing, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes
still rule the day. But I've done my best to
inject soups and hors d'ouvres into an evening
that once was all about gorging till your eyes
turned brown from the homemade gravy welling
up in every available cavity.
Which is exactly why I dig The
Day After Thanksgiving. Or, why I used to.
While the rest of the urban proletariat
are out cow-towing to mass merchants and getting
sucked in by the kick-off of the Xmas Shopping
Season, this guy usually spends Black Friday
eating his way through a veritable cornucopia
of tender leftovers, gifted brewskis and appetizers
that MUST be devoured before they become a health
Except for those years I get locked
in the bathroom...through no fault of my own,
The Day After TDay: 1997 started
innocently enough. Mrs. Nitrate woke early for
her job saving lives while visions of cold turkey
and leftover Butternut Squash Soup (recipe to
follow) danced in my head. Ostensibly planning
to tackle a few freelance projects in the morning,
I bade my better half farewell and told her
I'd "be working" and couldn't play
hooky...or hockey. Only god may save more than
Bernie Parent, but Mrs. Nitrates no slouch
as a netminder herself.
With The King of All Media taking
the week off to berate his wife and make his
children miserable I decided to actually close
the bathroom door and enjoy a warm, steam-producing
shower. Open the pores, unclog the follicles...the
Unknown to me, one of the tiny
guests from the previous night's festivities
had staked out our tiny bathroom as her tiny
play area. No, I'm not talking about Don Lapre,
but as I would soon discover, this elfen houseguest
was hanging on and jiggling the bathroom doorknob
till it was a-l-m-o-s-t to the breaking point.
Shit, I wish she HAD been placing tiny classified
ads and cashing $90,000 checks for 900 numbers!
What you have to understand is
that our bathroom was right off our kitchen...literally.
Put one friggin' foot in front of the other
friggin' foot and youre on top of your
next beer for chrissakes! (My apologies to both
Fred Astaire and Mickey Rooney) Which means,
that at 9:30 on the morning after Thanksgiving,
I was about six feet from two-thirds of a turkey,
3 lbs. of stuffing, two bowls of mashed tates,
an entire vat of leftover Butternut Squash Soup...and
a variety case of Pete's Wicked Ales! AIGHHHHHHHHH!
'Scuse me, I'm sorta getting cold
sweats just revisiting that morning...
As I stepped from the shower and
envisioned a healthy breakfast of turkey and
cranberry sauce, "and perhaps some soup"
I thought, the last thing I expected was the
doorknob to spin in my hand like tv's oh-so-aptly-named
Wheel of Fortune. Unfortunately, yours truly
had hit the big FOOD BANKRUPT and had left his
"Spin Again" in the green room.
So, just how does one cope with
being trapped in a tiny bathroom wearing nothing
but an Obi-Wan Kenobi-esque bathrobe and a smile?
Oh, and when I say "tiny" I mean "tiny."
Like, six feet long by four feet wide "tiny"!
With Mrs. Nitrate returning, well,
who the hell knew when, the morning started
to take an ugly turn. After about 20 minutes
of berating myself for actually CLOSING the
bathroom door (when was the last time you heard
a rational person argue against THAT concept?)
I realized that I could survive for days
perhaps weeks on end thanks to a diet
of Tums, Colgate Toothpaste, and birth control
"Alright," I rationalized,
"I'll only eat the birth control pills
if I'm TRULY desperate. I'd be crazy to just
pop them like appetizers."
Oh yeah, appetizers...just six
feet...maybe six feet and change away. Perhaps
I can...just...BREAK THE DOOR DOWN! It was then
that I realized a true sign of desperation involves
trying to "surprise" a plywood bathroom
The next six, yeah you read that
correctly, six hours passed in odd increments.
Futile attempts at prying the door off its hinges
with a pair of nail clippers (don't laugh!)
led to the most introspective moments one can
have while sitting on a toilet lid. An unsuccessful
bid at knocking the doorknob off with a $9 bathroom
scale resulted in my being weightless in your
planet's gravity until Mrs. Nitrate broke
down and bought a scale I wasn't allowed to
destroy. My final, most pathetic attempt at
McGyver-ing my way out of the bathroom involved
a pair of scissors best suited to trimming my
nose hair. That led to hopping back in the shower
and shaving off all my chest hair. Face it man,
isolation does strange things to the human psyche.
I was eventually rescued when
Mrs. Nitrate returned from rounds and played
"Mrs. Nitrate The Bathroom Door Slayer"
all over its plywood ass...oh yeah, and my head
which happened to be in the way at the time.
Take my advice: keep the bathroom
open, steer clear when the Missus is trying
to kick the door down, and double up the following
recipes...youll be steamed if your Turkeyday
crowd doesn't leave leftovers.
Here's a couple soups sure to
garner rave reviews anytime during the Fall
and Winter months...
Butternut Squash Soup with
- 6 cups low-salt chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 medium butternut squash (about
1 pound), peeled, seeded and chopped
- 2 tart green apples, peeled,
cored and chopped
- 2 cups stale bread cubes
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 cup light cream
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat a medium kettle...if you
dont have one add it to your shopping
list. Nothing is more useful, more versatile
than just such a cooking implement. Theyre
great for chili and...ah man, Im getting
ahead of myself. Bring the chicken broth to
a boil and add the onions, rosemary and marjoram.
Simmer about 10 minutes. Add squash, apples,
bread, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 40
minutes, covered. Puree with one of those Braun
boat motors or by batches in a blender...if
you dont have a boat motor, add that to
your list, too. Return the puree to the kettle,
stir in the cream, ladle into bowls and garnish
with nuts. Serves 6-8.
Swiss Beer Soup
The Hungover Gourmet loves cheese...almost
as much as he loves beer! So, what better mix
of wintertime faves than a semi-authentic German
soup with massive stick-to-your-ribs flavor?
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup toasted French bread
- 2 bottles good dark beer (we
always enjoy a Yuengling Porter)
- 3 cups low salt chicken broth
- 1 tbsp. dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black
- 2 cups Swiss cheese
- 1 tsp. hot Hungarian paprika
Open one of the bottles of beer
and take a drink. In your medium soup kettle
(see above) heat the butter until hot but not
burning. Add onion and cook over medium high
heat until soft. Drink some more beer. Add garlic,
bread cubes, beer and chicken stock. Bring to
a boil while you preheat the broiler and finish
off that first beer. Stir in the parsley and
cook for an additional five minutes (if using
fresh parsley use 2 tbsp. and only cook for
2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in black
pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese...dust
with hot paprika. Place under broiler until
cheese is hot, bubbly and brown sorta
like Halle Berry Justice Berry! Serves 4-6.
[This article originally appeared