Ahhh, November in Vermont. So much to enjoy. An early winter dusting coats the mountains like sugar. The whir of freshly balanced snow tires accompanies every drive. The crisp scent of wood smoke hangs in the air, and lest we forget, the impending bacchanalia of poultry-based family feasts: Thanksgiving.
This year we are having our first Thanksgiving at home, just the three of us. It was our son Carlos’ idea, and though part of it is because we have never celebrated it in our little house, it is also that we will be guaranteed the finest feast imaginable (not to mention leftovers to enjoy).
You see, my husband is a wonderful cook. I am the envy of my friends as he does all the cooking, and takes great joy in nurturing us with his elaborate but classic meals. It is from the reaction of my friends that I know this is not a common trait amongst husbands, stereotypes aside. Though I am grateful for this as it speaks to the quality of our partnership — each labor divided by our gifts, not our gender — the most wonderful part is the influence it is having on our ten-year-old son, Carlos.
One Saturday afternoon I came home from a trip to Burlington, put down my things, and went to find the guys to kiss them hello. I walked in to the living room and found them sitting on the couch, side-by-side, eating chips and watching the food network. They were arguing about which show had featured a certain recipe for braised pork tenderloin.
“It was on the bobble-head show last week!” my son said. They have their own names for the individual shows. It seems they think a particular female chef’s head is too big for her body.
“No, it was the Southern woman who puts her fingers in the food!” was my husband’s retort.
It was confusing enough that I felt I had stepped in to an alternate universe — there was usually cartoons or sports on at that time of day — but I also gleaned from the conversation that there was a history of cooking show watching between them.
The following week Carlos asked me to take him to the grocery store. “I want to make you guys lunch,” he announced. After a long stint at the Price Chopper, we returned home and he promptly threw us out of the kitchen. When he called us in half an hour later, he set before us a meal of tortellini en brodo, with baked croquettes made from fresh Parmesan cheese and spices, which you floated on top of the soup. My husband and I just stared at each other across the table.
As I relished the delicious meal I asked Carlos, “Where did you learn this?” To which he replied, “On a cooking show I watched at Donna’s.” It seems he was also watching the shows at his caregivers in the afternoon.
Those of you who have read my earlier columns already know that Carlos is an athletic, linebacker-sized guy who is, as most boys his age are, very concerned about his reputation as a masculine manly man. Luckily, however, he has managed to escape the stereotypical perception of the kitchen being a woman’s domain and is heading towards a possible career as a chef (or at least a very happy future spouse). Yes, I am concerned about the amount of time they spend watching those damn shows — they really are addictive; my friend Lisa calls them “food porn” — but it seems I am to reap the benefits as well.
So as we approach this season of giving thanks, I find myself grateful that my son has inherited his father’s joy in the nurturing of family and friends. Perhaps some of you enjoy cooking and see it as a way to show your love and affection to those you care about, too. If, however, you are gastronomically challenged and fortunate enough, as I am, to have a culinary-nurturer hosting your Thanksgiving celebration, you can certainly return the favor by enjoying their gifts and praising them eloquently in between mouthfuls. That is, in fact, a form of nurturing, is it not?
I’m sure this first Thanksgiving at home will be one to remember as it will be lovingly prepared by my two chefs, and it will give me much to be thankful for.
I am also thankful for you, gentle readers. May you all be nurtured this holiday season.