Tag Archives: tips for visitors

Thanksgiving Chefs

I don’t understand why people who don’t cook 364 days a year suddenly think they can cook a large meal that involves roasting a whole animal. –Matt from Biwa

The man has a good point.  I was in a fun position this year; I participated in another family’s traditions, in which the day’s schedule, alcohol list, recipes and soundtrack were (nearly) completely determined more than a decade ago.

So what’s a decent chef or excellent amateur cook to do?  Stay the fuck out of the way? Try to be helpful?  Well, my friends, I figured it out:

Tasting&Complaining’s Rules for Attending (Other peoples’) Thanksgiving Traditions (RATT):

  • Offer to do all the prep work, to their specifications.

Reason: They get to start drinking early and admire your knife skills.  You get to stay busy, thus not suspiciously silent.  Also, you don’t start drinking early.

  • Watch them cook per their traditions, stay out of the way, ask questions and compliment their recipes.

Reason: Practice with me:

“Wow, I didn’t think a recipe so simple would be so delicious!”

“French’s Onions make everything better.”

“Ok Uncle Trent, I’ll man the Fire Extinguisher while you fry that Turkey.”

“This pie is fantastic! did you make it? (only useful if you can see the Sarah Lee box from your seat)”

  • Offer to prepare the Brussels Sprouts.
Reason: Everyone who doesn’t like Brussels Sprouts will thank you for making them taste good.  The family pet will adore you for saving them the pain of being fed all the Brussels Sprouts surreptitiously.  The person who usually makes the Brussels Sprouts will relent quickly, because even they don’t think their recipe is any good.
  • Offer to clear the table.
Reason: You’ll only get through a few dishes before someone says “But wait!  You did all the prep work!” shoves a beer in your hand and shoos you out into the Rumpus room to watch the Lions get smacked around like a Piñata.
Mission accomplished.  Somehow you get a little credit for everything, but you didn’t make it much different from last year.  Bonus points if you can remember everyone’s name and turn the most ardent Bud Light drinker on to a microbrew, but don’t push it.