Friday, November 28, 2008
TBG Eats: Mrs. Bootleg's Thanksgiving Dinner
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Here at Stately Bootleg Manor in always-sunny San Diego, we sloshed through the first rainy turkey day since 2002 – three weeks after my rainy wedding day. Temperatures dipped into the low sixties and other unprecedented sh*t went down.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Bootleg was in control of the kitchen. On the rarest occasion, I've been known to mock my midget wife on this blog, but I'll tell y'all right now…when it comes to cooking…that b*tch can burn. Her meatloaf – much like me – single-handedly shatters every tired stereotype. She's the only Black woman in America who makes her own spaghetti sauce. And, her spinach n' shrimp enchiladas are a glorious fusion of San Diego and our southern suburb, Mexico.
So, as you can see, every Thanksgiving brings that much more pressure for my wife to not f*ck up. Here's how 2008 went down.
Turkey: I'm not bragging when I say that my wife just happens to be one of those people that everyone likes. Seriously, John McCain should've selected her. In November '02, she was standing in line at a Bed, Bath & Beyond – spending one of our wedding gift cards – when she struck up a conversation with another woman in line. A few minutes later, Mrs. Bootleg had gotten the woman's turkey recipe. Her bird calls for olive oil, rosemary and assorted Italian(?) seasonings. The end result beats the pants off of the usual boring Butterball. I'm not as big on turkey as I was during my obese adolescence, but this inhumanely mutilated and plucked 12 lb. piece of poultry died honorably and deliciously. Grade: 4 (out of 5)
Giblet Gravy: Mrs. Bootleg, for whatever reason, has never learned how to make good gravy. It always seemed simple enough when I watched my mother turn grease into goodness, but the end result for my wife always ended up as something similar to scorched spackle. So, I invited my mom (Jalen's "Grandma Bootleg"!) down for her culinary contribution. Of course, I forgot that my mom prefers her turkey gravy with the parts of the bird that the slaves had to settle for 200 years ago. Giblets?! That's the heart, liver and gizzards, kids. Us house Negroes don't eat those. Grade: 1 (Grandma Bootleg did set aside a saucepan of giblet-free gravy for me, but still…)
Dressing: If you're ever in the presence of Black people, don't you dare call it "stuffing". Just trust me on this one. This might've been the best batch Mrs. Bootleg has ever made as hers is a homemade blend of fresh-baked cornbread, croutons and chicken stock. Nowhere near as coarse and clumpy as the Stove Top in a box variety, this stuff could cure cancer. Grade: 5
White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes: Another side dish courtesy of Grandma Bootleg. My mom's been making mashed potatoes in the same scratched-up tin-foil-thin pot for twenty years. She uses a mix of mayo and sour cream to achieve the consistency of Heaven's clouds, then totally came out of left field by folding in shredded white cheddar cheese. If Idaho weren't such a racist cesspool, I'd think my mother's recipe could make that state known for its potatoes. Grade: 5
Collard Greens: White folk have their green bean casserole, while we have our greens. An acquired taste if ever there was one, it's hard to believe that one of the world's dirtiest vegetables can turn inexplicably delicious. About halfway through the preparation time, Mrs. Bootleg invariably complains about the meticulous cleaning and picking that collards require. This is a good sign. It means she's not about to half-ass her way to my dinner. My grandfather also came down on Thursday and, sadly, his 82-year-old innards can't take the chili pepper kick that usually accompanies my wife's greens. Consequently, Mrs. Bootleg went with a milder batch which has been duly demerited. Grade: 4
Cranberry Sauce: Look, I'm a purist…so sue me. Throw a can of that jellied cranberry sauce in the fridge, open when ready to serve and slice it up. Grandma Bootleg – God bless her – has converted to real cranberries since I moved out of my parents' house. Real cranberries are bitter. Real cranberry sauce is akin to an unsweetened pie filling, but without the buttery pie crust or 10 quarts of corn syrup. Grade: -5
Bread: As I get older, I come painfully closer to one day realizing my mother's mortality. When she goes, it's safe to say that her homemade bread will crack the top three things I'll miss most about her. She's the last person alive who still buys yeast, people. I've previously traded her bread to co-workers for goods and services. It's currency you can eat! Grade: 500
Sweet Potato Pie: Fun fact – No self-respecting Negro uses sweet potatoes to make sweet potato pie. The next time y'all come across that other Black guy you know, try'n sway the conversation to soul food and let him know that you know our dirty little secret: yams. Anyways, remember that episode of The Simpsons where Homer the Food Critic is nearly killed by a 10 billion-calorie éclair? Well, the process that the nefarious French chef uses to fatten up his confection is the same one my wife uses to turn harmless, healthy tubers into an artery-clogging pie. Each slice takes years off my life, but since they're the years that involve senility, incontinence and an ineffective term as unofficial mayor of a block in Brooklyn, New York, I'm OK with it. Grade: 5