It’s Thanksgiving. A holiday I love. I spent last weekend pureeing and freezing butternut squash soup, baking pumpkin bread and frying latkes – an unexpected edition to the feast — since it’s the first and last time in many years that Thanksgiving coincides with Hanukkah. I spent two days shopping for vegetables and multiple ingredients and packed them into the car and onto the kitchen counter. The 19 pound turkey was brined and I ungracefully lugged the pale pink bird in it’s embryonic-like brining bag into the downstairs fridge. Homemade raw cranberry sauce was pulsed and blended and left to marinate with oranges and lemon in the upstairs fridge.
I woke at 7 Thursday morning and turned on the Macy’s parade– the sound of marching bands and show tunes provided nostalgia and atmosphere while I chopped root vegetables, washed the turkey, and made two stuffings – one for in the bird and a new recipe with homemade bread cubes, turkey bacon and sage.
My husband spent the morning laying on the couch. To be fair, he was sick. He was coughing and pale and I didn’t want him anywhere near the food. But to be honest if he wasn’t sick he wouldn’t provide much help. He’s never cooked in the 25 years we’ve been married. He’s never even boiled water for pasta. No pancakes for the kids. No breakfast in bed. When guests come he warmly greets them but forgets to offer them a drink. He doesn’t think to hang their coats. He’s a guest in his own home. Since I do like to cook and entertain and I like to do it my way and only my way, it’s probably for the best.
As I continued the 5 hours of Thanksgiving preparation. I was making an artichoke dip and a balsamic dressing for the roasted root vegetables that his family looks forward to each year, when a commercial came on tv asking viewers to think about what they would do if they could do anything they wanted and money wasn’t an issue. He asked me what I would do. He made a comment about me opening a nail salon and I thought — he really doesn’t know me. I hesitated for a second and said I always wanted to be on Saturday Night Live. Or be a sketch comedy writer. Then I changed my mind and said I’d be a painter. I am at my happiest when I am creating something or painting and that I would love to be a respected artist. He made the point that if that’s what I wanted to do why don’t I do it? I made a mental note to myself to sign up for a painting class again. Then I asked him what he would do. I thought he might say he’d open a gym since he’s obsessed with P90x and would get to ogle fit and toned men and women all day long. Imagine my surprise when he said the following ” I would open a restaurant or bar. ” I was shocked. I was flabbergasted. I thought, he doesn’t know ME at all, but apparently he doesn’t know HIMSELF and I obviously don’t know HIM! I laughed. I might have snorted. “What are you talking about?” I said with confusion and a little disdain. “You hate to cook, clean, serve, or do anything having to do with meal preparation!”
“You don’t have to cook to have a restaurant,” he responded defensively. “The owner doesn’t play on the team.”
I suggested he practice his restaurant management skills by pouring drinks and serving food when the 10 guests (all his blood relatives) arrived in an hour. He declined. He continued his argument that he would be the maitre’d … the owner, the Bon vivant who socializes with guests and makes them feel important. He didn’t need to practice.
I realized this argument wasn’t worth winning. I had more cooking to do. The Honeymooners were on tv for him. The couch was comfy. And he’s not retiring anytime soon.
So in ten years, if you happen to pass a restaurant named Marty’s Place, go on in. A tall friendly man will be there to greet you. There will be a few original paintings on the wall by his supporting wife. But bring your own food, maybe even a beer — this is Marty’s Place, and after this holiday owning a restaurant isn’t MY fantasy.