Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Thanks for the GrubNovember 24, 2009
I know I’m going way out on a limb here, but for some reason I thought it would be appropriate to share some Thanksgiving stories and recipes this week. Tomorrow’s Recipe of the Week will feature a fantastic dish that is a perfect Thanksgiving dinner treat, but today I thought I’d do the nostalgia thing, and impart some culinary memories of Thanksgivings past.
There are a couple of stories in particular that happened on two separate Thanksgivings 20-25 years ago, but my family still references them today. Growing up, we had no extended family anywhere near where we lived, so in my early youth our Thanksgiving meals were pretty much just me, my brother and my parents. Sometimes family friends would come over, and I think once or twice we went out of town to visit relatives. Once my brother and I were older, our family always traveled for Thanksgiving weekend, usually either to Arizona or San Francisco. This meant going out for dinner on Thanksgiving, and as I mentioned, a couple of those occasions are forever etched in our family’s Thanksgiving folklore.
On one of the San Francisco journeys, we had our Turkey Day dinner at Charley Brown’s, a fairly famous steakhouse chain. As far as I can remember the dinner was uneventful, but then came dessert. For some reason, my brother and I were forced to share a piece of pumpkin pie (I’m sure it was due either to my mother’s insistence we not eat too much sugar, or that the meal came with one piece of pie and my dad wouldn’t buy another). Anyway, the process and result of splitting this piece of pumpkiny goodness is still an ongoing debate in my family. I think standard procedure in the world of sharing food dictates that one person cut the item to be shared, and then the other person gets to choose which piece they want. It keeps things fair and equal. I can’t remember if I volunteered to do the cutting or was elected, but regardless, being an unconventional (i.e. weird) guy, I did not cut the pie vertically – I sliced it across the middle, separating the piece with the big hunk of crust from the piece with the narrow tip. My brother chose the piece with the crust, which is exactly what I wanted him to do, since I was a much bigger fan of the pie filling part, not the crust. So I claimed victory, saying that I got the larger piece of pie. My brother – and to this day my parents back him up, favorite that he was – claims he received the larger slice, simply because it actually had more physical weight than my piece. Not so, I still claim – sure his piece had more girth, but it was mostly crust. I got more pie. I win.
The other moment of Thanksgiving insanity came during a trip to Sedona, Arizona. The only restaurant in town that was open on Turkey Day was a place called Shugrue’s, a bar & grill establishment of sorts. Naturally we ordered turkey dinners, and after a little while our server informed us that they had, in fact, run out of turkey. On Thanksgiving. The only eatery in town open this day had run out of the one thing they knew everyone would be ordering. Ok, it was lame, but we were hungry, so we ordered something else. I think we opted for a close turkey substitute, chicken. After a short while we were informed that they had, in fact, run out of chicken. Apparently central Arizona was suffering through a poultry drought of gargantuan proportions. Eventually we found things that they still had in stock; I don’t recall what exactly we ate that night, but it was probably the least traditional Thanksgiving dinner ever. Shugrue’s name became a running gag in our family – any time we were traveling and deciding where to eat, we would say, “Hey is there a Shugrue’s here?”
So there are a couple of Thanksgiving musings for you to chew on. Here’s hoping this year brings some legendary moments for you and your family.