- Table: To fit 12 or 14 around a table for 8 use slim, folding chairs in every other place (you can still lay the table symmetrically; people find a way to even it out) & add two on each end -- perfect for two slim adults or two adults who are madly in love.
- Plates: Hot plates always make the meal taste better & you can do these either in the warming drawer of the oven or by running each plate under hot tap water.
- Carving: Although the concept of the turkey being carved at the table in front of adoring family (often dispensing "good" advice) looks nice in paintings, it's deeply impractical. Carve it in the kitchen, quickly, to keep it hot, and plop it onto a nice, hot platter. Add tangerines, baby apples, sprigs of sage & thyme & rosemary, cranberries (whatever you can find in the fridge) to zhuzh it up.
- Freakin' out: Don't panic! Remain deadly calm. Much better to have cold food than an over-zealous, angst-inducing host.
- Chiddlers: Do feed the small children first & now is not the time to have them try brussel sprouts. Most children have simple tastes: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, ice cream. Also, don't give small children your silver knives and forks. They will invariably drop it through a crack in the deck & it will be gone forever. Or, tying them to their chairs might be a viable option.
- Bubbly or Cab?: Do let people drink the wrong wine with their turkey if it makes them happy (Rule of thumb: if anything makes them happy, short of paedophilia, let them do it).
- Keep it Simple: Don't try to make delicate dishes that need last minute attention when cooking for 18 or 24. If it requires an hollandaise or it contains whipped egg whites, roll it out at your next dp for 8. At Thanksgiving, it will just make you hot and sweaty (not in a good way).
- In vino veritas: Allow that families, inevitably, will quarrel. Save up the stories to tell your great granchildren. And if Great Aunt Celeste has a drinking problem, it's going to be right out there on Turkey Day & nothing you can do will prevent it from rearing its ugly head. Just try to think of it as a glorious and intricately-woven tableau. The Bayeux Tapestry of your life, as it were.
- Avoid pugilism: Try to remember a little about family dynamics when you make your table plan. Ex-wives and current wives shouldn't be within earshot of each other, and alternate the quiet ones with the more rambunctious guests, if you can. If you have any inkling of a notion of a civilized table plan, throw it out of the window before you start. This is Thanksgiving, afterall.
- K9 vacuums: Do keep your dogs under the table to pick up scraps. Makes your job the next day much easier.
- Snogging: Remember to kiss your husband or wife and tell them what a brilliant job they're doing, right in the middle of the most chaotic part of the cooking process. If they don't punch you, it's true love.
- Be grateful: Do give thanks. It doesn't matter to whom you give thanks, but it matters that our gratitude is heard (you know, in the big, cosmic loveliness of it all...)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Manage Thanksgiving Stress
It's that time: as everyone else seems to be sharing good advice for Thanksgiving, I thought I'd dispense a little Brit tough love of my own. After twenty-three years of this festive family holiday, I've learned a thing or two: