The house doesn’t smell like Thanksgiving this year. Absent is the distinctive assault of sweet onions sizzling in butter, the perfume of fresh thyme and sage, the very specific aroma of matzoh stuffing and an oversized turkey fighting for oven space. There’s the slightest hint of caramel in the air from the Wild Nut pie that seeped out of the springform and pooled along the corners of the baking pan. Burnt sugar is stubborn the morning after, refusing to surrender beneath a sponge and scalding water.
A little before nine am, the television remote quickly adjusted from CBS to NBC, Al Roker is brandishing a large pair of shears and my holiday begins. The ribbon is cut for a parade first launched in 1924; Macy’s legendary Thanksgiving Day celebration. Revelers bracing frigid temps line the parade route snaking down from Central Park West and 77th Street to Herald Square. I’m less cold in my kitchen with the oven turned up to 425 degrees. Three hours of marching bands and Broadway show tunes punctuated by the high kicks of the Rockettes and larger-than-life balloons, serve as background accompaniment to my personal pie baking.
Drew’s Wild Nut pie dozes on the dining room table, already turned out of its springform and divvied up under the blade of a commercial serrated knife. History has shown that trying to slice through a pound of nuts with a delicate pie server is torturous for the baker and the dessert seekers. I’m waiting for the ice crystals on the rhubarb to dissipate and the excess moisture from the butternut squash to drip through a fine mesh strainer.
Looking up from my butcher block table, I catch the eye of the Pillsbury Dough Boy balloon. In my sleep-deprived-over-pied state, I take this as a good sign. Perhaps the Dough Boy is giving me a nod, indicating I’ve made it to the other side of Thanksgiving. It’s time to be grateful.
My year has been punctuated by the luxury of travel, affording me the gift of time with some of my favorite people. It has also opened the door to new acquaintances from far-flung parts of the world. The opportunity to feast upon idle time in magnificent cities brimming with history and extraordinary local food, overfills my Thanksgiving gravy boat.
This afternoon, faces will circle a holiday table that extends just beyond the dining room to include a child-sized folding table. There will be too much turkey and a hotly debated sweet potato offering and parsley flecked matzoh stuffing. We will struggle to release the requisite blueberry-studded gelatin from my grandmother’s fluted jello mold and cleanse our palates with After Eight mints that have been smuggled in from the UK. Pie will make an entrance, then an exit, only to reappear Friday morning. The patriarch of the family would have approved of pie bookending his favorite holiday. My favorite holiday, too.
Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm