You can deal, People!
It’s here again. The beginning of the have-to-deal-with-your-family season. Maybe for some of you that’s a great time of year. Weirdos (said with love and a little envy).
For those of us who have to buttress our sense of selves and unplug some receptors in our heart and brain machines to get through, it takes a bit of prep and a few tools. The good thing is everyone is getting older so you would hope a little less volatile or insecure. You would hope.
I focus on the food.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been down to my mother’s for Thanksgiving. I do most of the cooking. This year there are going to be less folks, just family. Which is better actually. When there are too many people it tends to just break into groups and there isn’t a sense of community or family. Just different camps of people, usually separated along ideological lines. Fuck that shit this year.
She’s in Florida so there’s always the chance that most of the state will be covered with rising seawater overnight. That would be exciting. Old people on rafts and iguanas everywhere. Assuming that won’t happen, I look forward to immersing myself in the cooking. I’m also flying my brother down. We haven’t hung out at a Thanksgiving together with my mom in probably decades.
I’m switching up the menu a bit. I’ll see how that pans out. I’m generally not a health-oriented cook for that day. I figure it’s one day a year, let’s kill ourselves a little. But I am going to replace the somewhat hackneyed sweet potato thing with the brown sugar on top with something a bit more exotic. Here it is:
I’ve been cutting up kabocha squash into triangles. Like 2-3 inches at the bottom and along the sides. I coat them with ghee. Then sprinkle them heavily with garam masala and some salt and roast them until they brown.
It’s amazing and includes some of the American holiday spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg with some more exotic spices like cumin, coriander and sometimes some other stuff depending on the blend of the garam masala. I’ve been thinking about the squash a lot. Obsessed a bit.
It’s good to focus on the food and use it as a grounding force as you engage with aging, sadness, maybe difficult relatives and situations, maybe even some happiness. Maybe that’s the whole idea of the holiday. Being thankful is one thing but being empathetic, tolerant, giving and connected is the main thing. Oh, and full of food.
Today I talk to playwright/screenwriter/director Kenneth Lonergan about his amazing work. Manchester by the Sea, Margaret, You Can Count on Me and his plays. On Thursday I talk to comic Annie Lederman about her life and insanity. Great talks!