Friday, November 25, 2011
Thanksgiving Food Needs to be Hotter
Why isn't Thanksgiving dinner ever hot enough? Is it because everything sits out too long prior to the meal? Why must we always sit down to lukewarm turkey, tepid yams, room temperature stuffing, and unpleasantly temperate mashed potatoes smothered in a rapidly cooling gravy?
I hate having to eat this dinner like there's a clock ticking, and I can't risk insulting the hostess by bringing the whole shebang over to the microwave. In the spirit of the holiday I basically just have to be thankful the food has any warmth at all, while I dig in and think of England.
Is it too much to ask for a hot Thanksgiving dinner? To maybe see steam rising from just one dish? To need to blow on a bite of turkey before tentatively tasting it? To see others at the table clatter their fork to the plate as they fan their hand in front of their O-pursed lips? This would be unprecedented in the history of the holiday. "Piping", really, is the adjective I'd like to use, just one time, when describing the holiday meal.
This cold turkey phenomenon can't be specific only to my experience. I've had too many Thanksgiving dinners at too many homes to believe that it's a rare event. Admit it - this is a national problem. Your Thanksgiving food is just not hot enough. The bird, the fixins, the toppings, the sides, they're all served at that milky warm temperature - you know it from the shower - where it's just warm enough to remind you how much warmer it needs to be.
Yes, yes, there's the microwave. But it may as well be on another planet. There's just no way to push back from the table with your full plate and announce to the group that you're going to give it a quick zap in the ol' nuker. If there's a way to do this without offending the host, I'd love to know it. I'm sure this reluctance dates back to the original Thanksgiving feast, where pilgrims faced with cooling game bird and chilly cornmeal could find no polite way to ask the chieftan to give it a little more fire.
Or is it that this most traditional of American meals is coincidentally composed entirely of heat resistant foods? I mean, let's face it, mashed potatoes get cold quickly - and exposed turkey breast won't be far behind. You don't have any rich, heavy sauces on the menu that retain heat like a thermos. Brown gravy doesn't count - it strangely conducts no heat. Maybe what Thanksgiving needs is a liberal coating of marinara over everything? A fra diavolo sauce? Some kind of tikka masala, or panang curry out of which we can spoon little turkey pieces onto plates of steaming basmati rice?
I don't know, I'm just blue-skying it here. Just getting the gears turning. Just starting a conversation. Because the problem here is real, and the solution is elusive. From the green beans to the cherry pie, we need hotter food. I recommend we all take the time to visit a diner and order an open faced turkey sandwich, just to remind ourselves how enjoyable turkey and mash can actually be when we give it a few calories of heat.
When it's the day after Thanksgiving, and I'm not only full but dealing with a sore roof-of-mouth from all the piping hot stuffing the day before, I'll know our work is done.