Zoë Sharp

Today is Thanksgiving, which leaves the solitary Brit among the ‘Rati members at a bit of a loose end. We don’t celebrate the fourth Thursday in November as anything special in the UK, although we’ve had another lot of snow here this morning, if that’s cause for celebration?

But, the turkeys here are safe for another month, and today is just another working day. As it is in Canada, where I understand Thanksgiving was last month. Or Japan, where Labor Thanksgiving Day, the holiday of Niiname sai – which apparently came from the Emperor dedicating the year’s rice harvest to the Shinto Gods – was on November 23rd.

Today I understand my US friends will be sitting down to turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, candied yams, popcorn, pecan pie, apple pie, ham and gravy. Not, I hope, all on the same plate.

Probably followed by some of this:

I, on the other hand, will probably be having something spicy from one of Nigel Slater’s cookbooks with my Other Half, watch an episode of Supernatural on DVD, and then carry on scribbling into the night.

So, a very brief post on this Thanksgiving Day.

What did you do today?

Who did you spend the day with?

Who would you LIKE to have spent the day with?

What did you eat?

What would you LIKE to have eaten?

What’s the worst/best Thanksgiving or other holiday you’ve ever had?

Any good Thanksgiving jokes?

Here’s one to start you off:

Fred in Dallas calls his son Bill in New York just before Thanksgiving and tells him, “I’m sorry to spoil your day, but I’ve called to tell you that your mother and I are going to divorce.  I just cannot take any more of her moaning. We can’t stand the sight of each other any more. I’m telling you first, Bill, because you’re the eldest, please tell your sister.”

When Bill calls his sister Susan in San Francisco, she says: “No way are they getting divorced, I’ll go over and see them for Thanksgiving.”

Susan phones her parents and tells them both “You must NOT get divorced. Promise you won’t do anything until I get over there. I’m calling Bill, and we’ll both be there with you tomorrow. Until then, don’t do ANYTHING. Please, wait until we’ve talked to you face to face!” and hangs up.

Fred puts down the phone and turns to his wife. “Good news,” he says. “Bill and Susan are both coming here for Thanksgiving and they’re both paying their own way.”

Lame, huh?

Come on, ‘Rati, you must be able to do better than that…

This week’s Word of the Week is autopsy. It’s common knowledge that an autopsy is an examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to assess any disease or injury. The word is from Greek autopsia, a combination of autos, oneself and opsis, eye – thus to see for oneself or with one’s own eyes.  On this side of the Atlantic, we tend to use post-mortem, which is Latin for after death. Since this is a compound adjective, it should strictly be followed by a noun – post-mortem examination. 


49 thoughts on “Thanksgiving

  1. Debbie

    Thanksgiving blessings from the Great White North! It's anything but here, although I understand there was snow seen as far south as LA this week. Made the news up here! Zoë, did you have to dig yourself out?

  2. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Debbie

    Thank you. No, the snow's not that thick yet. We got snowed in a few times last winter though. I'm actually quite looking forward to snowman sculpting again!

  3. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Cornelia

    The Brits have a problem with all this sweet and savoury mixed together. Breakfast with maple syrup pancakes and bacon/sausage on the same plate just doesn't computer for us (although I quite like it).

    Have fun!

  4. Sue Wellby

    1. What did I do – work (my boss doesn't recognise Thanksgiving!)
    2. My work colleagues
    3. George Clooney
    4. Chicken in Marsala and orange sauce
    5. Fillet steak with George Clooney
    6. Best Thanksgiving shared with American friends in Saudi Arabia
    7. Don't know any Thanksgiving jokes
    8. It's snowing in Nottinghamshire – No more biking (sob)
    Hope you had a good one Zoe!

  5. PK the Bookeemonster

    Happy Thanksgiving! Zoe, thanks for standing vigil while the Americans indulge.
    This year, we'll be going to my parents' for dinner at about 1:00 (they live in the same town). We'll have the usual turkey, etc. No pumpkin pie for me, I HATE it. Blech blech blech. Mom will get all stressed out over the cooking and Dad will be helping but tune her out and I'll be the bridge trying to keep the peace. Steve and my brother will watch football and keep the dog out of the way. Later, after doing the dishes, I'll watch my Cowboys lose to the Saints. No plans for the evening; no leftovers which will be a bummer but the relaxing will be nice.
    Tomorrow, back to work. I don't need to do any shopping so no Black Friday. Having been on the retail side of things too many times, I don't want any part of it. Luckily, my drive to work doesn't include the shopping centers. 🙂

  6. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I think there is a universal conspiracy to always make Z do the Thanksgiving post – is this three years in a row, now?

    I thought the Thanksgiving story was funny AND realistic. And I don't like sweet and savoury on the same plate, either.

    Have a great day in the snow.

  7. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Sue

    I'm detecting a bit of a George Clooney vibe going on here ;-]

    I think there must be a rule for ex-pats that says they have to celebrate things from their home country a LOT harder than they do at home. Maybe that's why the Brits binge drink so much on holiday…?

    I feel your pain over the 'no biking'

  8. Zoë Sharp

    Hi PK

    I'm not sure we have Black Friday, either, so it all balances out.

    Why not make sure you wear something to your folks' place that has big pockets, and then you could sneak enough away to snack on for supper?

    Just a thought…

  9. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Alex

    It just works out that I always do the fourth Thursday, don't I? So Thanksgiving is always mine. Better that way than one of you guys having to do it in between family celebrations, though, so no bother.

    The snow has petered out leaving just a dusting and a biting wind. We ventured out to shift some fallen logs, but a warm computer keyboard was calling ;-]

  10. Rae

    Just drinking my first cup of coffee here on the Left Coast, and thanks to Crimespree Cinema got to watch the WKRP in Cincinnati turkey drop (if you've never seen it – or even if you have – here's the link

    It'll be very mellow this year, just four of us and the cutest little turkey you ever saw, and football on TV.

    I've enjoyed a bunch of fabulous holidays – one that stands out is a Christmas in Tahoe when the snow, the food, the company and the football were all perfect. Also experienced some truly rancid ones – the one worth repeating was a Christmas in Hawaii. The person who rented the condos didn't do their homework, and the places were garbage dumps – just awful. What you're supposed to do in this situation is laugh it off and use a lot of disinfectant. However, one member of our group had no sense of humor and pretty much made life miserable for the rest of us. For a week. Ugh.

    I hope you all have a great day, whether it’s Thanksgiving or just Thursday 😉

  11. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Rae

    Our download speed makes watching a 6+min clip almost impossible, but it looked fun, and the Crimespree site also gave me a nice recommendation for a new series to watch – Human Target – so thank you for that!

    How small is a cute turkey?

    Laughing in the face of adversity is always the best way of dealing with it, don't you think? Sorry one of your group couldn't find anything to laugh about in Hawaii.

    Hope you have a great day, too!

  12. Fran

    One of the absolute best Thanksgivings I've ever had was at a truck stop in Fargo. Lillian and I were moving up here and we had to get my stuff out of Minneapolis. We raced a snowstorm and landed in Fargo. The guy at the hotel desk gave us an upgraded room with a jacuzzi tub at the regular room rate, and let us have it for two nights. We walked across a snowy parking lot to the truck stop for Thanksgiving dinner and the food was phenomenal.

    I've cooked for dozens of people, and today it's just Lillian and me. In any case, I'm reminded that I have much to be thankful for!

  13. Rae

    Hi Zoe,

    A cute turkey is 10 lbs or smaller – this year's is about 9 lbs. I've also cooked gigantor ones, which are complicated exercises in logistical planning. Smaller is much more fun 😉

  14. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Louise

    "Hi Zoe! I'm knee deep in turkey prep here."

    Now I have visions of you de-gibletting a turkey on your former mortuary slab dining table …

  15. Sylvia

    Zoe –

    Love the joke – cracked up over that. I'm neck deep in turkey prep just like Louise. Of course it all goes on ONE plate. You just pile it up on top of each other. They don't make elastic waist pants for nothing, sweetheart! (really kidding on that last one)

    Happy, err, Thanksgiving. Perhaps someday you can explain Boxing Day to the rest of us??

  16. Reine

    All on one plate – with a separate TABLE for the pumpkin pie!

    Nothing quite like a living room full of deaf men watching New England beat Detroit at football. I'm wearing Bose noise-cancelling earphones.

    And ah, Zoë… I was at Christ Church, Oxford where they serve custard as condiment with every meal in the Great Hall. . Amercan students used to seek me out asking, "What's with this custard as condiment thing they've got going here?" So tell me, please, and I will be very thankful!

    Here's hoping my ascii text turkey comes out okay, below.
    /} p \ /}
    `~)-) / /` }
    ( / / /`}.' }
    / / .-'""-. / ' }-'}
    / (.' \/ '.'}_.}
    | `} .}._}
    | .-=-'; } ' }_.}
    \ `.-=-;' } '.}.-}
    '. -=-' ;,}._.}
    `-,_ __.'` '-._}
    jgs `|||

  17. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Rae

    I think the largest turkey we've had for a family Christmas was 12-14lbs – I have no idea how big a gigantor one would be. And we've never tried deep frying one, either. Is that a common thing over there?

  18. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Sylvia

    Now I have visions of plates with greedy-boards around the sides, like you'd put on a wheelbarrow so you can fill it twice as full …

    Glad you liked the joke. You've no idea how many I had to trawl through to find one remotely acceptable.

    Boxing Day, huh? Well, it's either the day tradesmen collect their Christmas box or bonus for good service during the year; or the day the collecting boxes in churches were opened up and distributed among the poor; or the day the servants of the gentry were allowed home to see their families, when they would carry a box of gifts and food. But in modern times it's become the day when estranged families, forced into close proximity for two days with a little too much sherry, start to swing punches at each other…

  19. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Reine

    A separate TABLE for the pie? Wow, that must be some pie ;-]

    Custard with everything? Really? That's a new one on me.

    Sorry the turkey didn't quite come through the mincer in one piece.

  20. Reine

    Hi again, Zoë. Hmmm… maybe it isn't called custard in the UK. Maybe it's called a creme or something else. It was served at least once a day with dinner. dessert came later, so it wasn't dessert. Maybe it's just an Oxford thing? Or a ChCh thing? Or something left over from Henry VIII days there? Never did see it anywhere else.

  21. Reine

    Aha! Must be incompatible with ascii! Thanks, Zoë. Another turkey saved from the likes of me. as a good-bye to ascii for now here is Tin Tin.

    \ -/
    /`H I'\
    ( (H I- )
    > , \
    / / \
    /\ \
    / \ / _
    ," `-.`'/
    –. \P Ojo.

  22. Rae

    Hi again Zoe,

    'Gigantor' would be 20+ lbs, intended to serve upwards of 20 people.

    And yes, deep frying is fairly common, and is the cause of lots of Darwin moments when people do things like fill the fryer too full of oil, forgetting about the displacement of liquid, etc. etc. I'm a big fan of old-fashioned roasting, with lots of butter 😉

  23. Reine

    One of my sons learned how to fry turkey in the deep woods of Georgia while in the navy, but when he wanted to try that out on the Irish side of the family in Boston they laughed him out of town. As a consolation prize they let him smoke one the following year, though.

    This message typed with chopsticks and eraser heads.

  24. Zoë Sharp

    Hey Reine

    "Maybe it's called a creme or something else. It was served at least once a day with dinner."

    Hmm, still not ringing any bells. It was sweet, right?

    (Can't you tell I never went to Oxford…)

    And so that's Tin Tin, is it? Are you sure this isn't some kind of ascii equivalent of a Rorschach inkblot test?

    How do you smoke a turkey?

  25. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Rae

    20+lbs OMG! I can't help but think one of those things on the hoof must be pretty scary. Surely that's approaching ostrich territory?

    I've heard there are quite a few candidates for the Darwin Awards when it come to deep-frying them. We have a rotissery in our oven, which does chickens beautifully, but woudn't cope with something even cute turkey size, I fear.

  26. Dudley Forster

    Here's how to deep fry a turkey Scottish style

    As for big turkeys, for years we would have a turkey smoked for Christmas Eve at a local BBQ joint. One year I went to pick up our 14lb bird and when the guy opened the smoking pit there was a turkey next ours that made ours look like a chicken. I asked the guy how big it was and he said it was home grown and weighed 52lbs.

    BTW my son-in-law just finished his autopsy of our turkey. He determined it was a death most fowl, but it would be delicious.

  27. Dudley Forster

    Oh forgot to add that one of my favorite breakfasts is pancakes with over easy fried eggs between them and bacon all covered with warm maple syrup. Yummmmm!

  28. Reine

    Hey Zoë, can't you tell I wasn't at Oxford very long? I don't know why they keep inviting me to these schools. I am clearly the world's biggest goof-off. I just love the history of 'radical religion' in England and America 1550-1750… or maybe it's because I am the only one who admires Henry VIII's exegeses.

    Yes, the custard – or creme – or cream – probably not called pudding there, though – was sweet. I'll put a message out on one of the ChCh lists. I always ate the stuff but never thought it went well with meat, fish, or fowl! It tasted a lot like what we, here in the US, might call hmmm a light and fluffy vanilla pudding, but more like the consistency of a whipped yogurt. Now I gotta find out!

    Well, heh, maybe it is a Rorschach inkblot test. You know how Rorschach decided on 10 inkblots for his test, don't you? He originally had 20-something but only enough money to print 10. That's what they taught us in grad school, anyway. I hate psychology now, actually, ever since I met my doctoral advisor. She shall remain nameless, but she speaks in a different voice.

    Well, P-Wog smokes turkeys on a grill with a cover. He uses mesquite kindling that he gathers by backing his pick-up into a mesquite tree in the desert; says 'oopsie,' than jumps out, throws the stuff into the back of the truck along with the mountain sage he's gathered for ceremonies, and speeds home one canyon ahead of the park ranger.

  29. Reine

    Dudley, some of my favorite people are Air Force brats. 😉 I lived on a navy base for 20 years, record I think. P-Wog shops at Davis-Monthan for me.

  30. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Dudley

    Deep-frying stuff is a bit of a Scottish tradition – battered and deep-fried Snickers, anyone? Or how about battered and deep-fried slices of frozen pizza. Not for me, methinks.

    A 52lb turkey! That's grossly ENORMOUS. I read something a while ago that said turkeys are being bred so huge that their hip joints collapse under their own weight and they can't actually walk about unaided. Hmm, nut-roast anyone?

    And a groan on the fowl play joke … ;-]

    Not sure about the stack of eggs and pancakes, either. Mind you, have you ever tried haggis and fried egg sandwiches? Now you're talking!

  31. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Reine

    Hmm, Henry VIII was a bit of a card when it came to religious interpretation, wasn't he? He was the one who wrote such a diatribe against the protestant teachings of Martin Luther that the Pope awarded him the title Defender of the Faith. Of course, as soon as Henry wanted to divorce Katherine and wed Anne, he had to do a quick conversion. The Pope took his bat home, but Henry refused to let go of the title so we still have Fid Def on the coinage to this day.

    Amazing what useless bits of knowledge float around in your brain, isn't it?

    Vanila pudding/cream – still no wiser, but then, I am sadly lacking in higher education ;-]

    Love the P-Wog story, whoever the guy is!

  32. Reine

    Hi Zoë,

    Yeah that Henry was a real card. I know it's hard to believe, but the exegeses he wrote when he still thought he was 'the spare' and might be of the priestly pursuasion were really brilliant. But then… well, you know what happened.

    It is very disconcerting to have him staring at you from his huge portrait in the great hall while you're trying to eat. My second 'year' there I had a room in the Old Library that he started – and was constantly ill at ease – all that monastery history, Wolsey, St. Frideswide's, the martyrs, and all there… really really moving and helped my research enormously.

    I'm not really very educated. Just can't forget stuff, so always did fairly well when it came time to write exams and give presentations, is all.

    P-Wog, short for polliwog is one of my sons– the swimmer, of course.

  33. Sylvia

    I love the Boxing Day explanation. Damn turkey is STILL in the oven. Side dishes ready to go…

    I don't understand the deep-frying of turkey. Now the smoked turkey sounds good and if someone could BBQ one like a pulled pork, I'd be in poultry heaven and have a NY Day dinner to plan.

  34. Laura

    Wow…. snow! 🙂 I spent last weekend on the beach reading! Even though the weather down under is heating up, I'll definitely be cooking a pumpkin pie for my family tomorrow. (We don't celebrate thanksgiving, but I do like the pumpkin pie!)
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  35. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Laura

    Friends of ours from Scotland moved to Australia a couple of years ago. And they've gone from being hardy Scots to thinking about putting a sweater on if the temp drops below 40deg.

    Have fun in the sun!

  36. pari noskin taichert

    What did you do today?
    Yesterday, I walked, read, cooked, ate and enjoyed my family

    Who did you spend the day with?
    Kids, hubby and sis-in-law.

    Who would you LIKE to have spent the day with?

    What did you eat?
    Turkey, two types of fresh cranberry sauce, baked sweet potatoes (in their skins), calabacitas with chopped green chiles, gravy, chestnut-turkey sausage corn-bread stuffing, spice cake and chocolate brownie cake.

    What would you LIKE to have eaten?
    A slightly less dry turkey.

    What’s the worst/best Thanksgiving or other holiday you’ve ever had?
    Worst? — family angst ridden, hostile upsetting . .. I don't want to go there.
    Best? Probably yesterday's.

    Any good Thanksgiving jokes?
    Not yet.

  37. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Pari

    Sounds like you had a great time. I think the only solution to a dry turkey – short of deep-frying it, of course – is to cook it in a steam oven.

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