Embryonic Eats

An Apology Letter To Thanksgiving in New Jersey


When my mom told me that Thanksgiving this year would be held in New Jersey for my family, I was surprised in a negative way. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to see my family and be able to travel… but… my family doesn’t have the best track record with Thanksgivings in New Jersey. During a recent Thanksgiving there was an incident. I was in the living room watching a movie with my cousins when my dad ran in frantically asking for the fire extinguisher. He grabbed it and darted out, and naturally, we followed. Sure enough, there was a fire in the oven. Covered in potassium bicarbonate, A.K.A, white fire extinguisher powder, the turkey was inedible. 

Now, do you understand why I was surprised to hear that we were putting the fate of our Thanksgiving dinner back in the hands of my Aunt Jen? That’s what I thought. 

I knew the plane was booked, and there was no getting out of it, so I headed into dinner with a (somewhat) open mind. And I was pleasantly surprised. 

When I emerged from my room on Thanksgiving  at noon, the first thing I saw was a turkey in a pressure cooker. I second-guessed the whole open-minded thing, but then was informed that it was the backup turkey, and there was no space left in the oven. Okay… I’ll let it slide…

I decided to steer clear of the kitchen after this. For the next few hours, I watched way too many games of soccer, football, and basketball. I couldn’t stand the boredom, so I returned to the kitchen and hovered until it was time to eat. And finally, it was. 

I removed the turkey napkin from my plastic plate so I could take it to the counter and serve myself. I’ve never met anyone who’s a turkey person at Thanksgiving, but I still feel the need to declare that I, too, am not a turkey person. With that said, I put a small piece on my plate to assess solely for this article. I’m not a cranberry sauce person. I promise I don’t have a boring palette–I just don’t like cranberries. I then added mashed potatoes, stuffing, a roll, mashed sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, brussels sprouts, and gravy. Side note: I learned last week that they’re actually called brussels sprouts, not brussel sprouts. Am I the only one who didn’t know that? 

There were two other main vegetable dishes. I couldn’t eat either, but I didn’t mind much because the green bean casserole and cauliflower bake didn’t sound very appetizing to me anyways. 

Anyways, I sat down at the table with recovered hope after looking at my plate. My first bite was into a bread roll which did not give me the airiness I was hoping for. On the bright side, I threw it out immediately to free up more real estate on my plate. I took my next bite into something I knew wouldn’t disappoint, the mashed potatoes. They were everything and more. Buttery, fluffy, and piping hot. Next, I tried the stuffing, and I knew exactly what to expect: perfection. My mom had made it the same way she does every year, and even carried a whole loaf of gluten-free cornbread through the airport just so that she could make it here, fresh. I need to figure out what herbs and spices she uses so I can sprinkle them on every meal I eat starting tomorrow. I drizzled gravy over both the stuffing and the mashed potatoes, but I barely even noticed its presence which is never a good sign in the flavor department. I should have known this gravy was going to lack flavor after just looking at its color. Let’s just say it was pale. 

By this point, the mashed sweet potatoes were seeping into my regular mashed potatoes, so I knew I had to get rid of them either via the trash, or my stomach. They ended up in the trash. I like sweet potatoes, but combining them with marshmallows rubs me the wrong way. 

Okay, two things left: brussels sprouts and turkey. The brussels sprouts were totally average and not worth dwelling on. The turkey, on the other hand, was weird. It’s not like I can pinpoint one sole thing wrong with the piece I had, though. It definitely wasn’t dry, but it wasn’t what I’d classify as juicy either. It was fine when I was eating it, but after I swallowed it, I got a weird taste in my mouth. Don’t worry –I got seconds of mashed potatoes and stuffing to end on a high note. 

For dessert, there was pumpkin pie, apple pie, birthday cake for my grandma, and most notably, cannoli dip. My reviews on dessert will be quick, though, because I have disappointing news- I couldn’t eat any of it. Well, I take that back; I could eat the ice cream bought for pie topping. It was great, but there’s not much more I can say about a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

From now on, I will no longer associate bad feelings with Thanksgiving in New Jersey. The only downside is that in order to go back home, I have to abandon the leftovers. For that reason, I am writing this article while eating a bowl of stuffing and mashed potatoes. Happy Thanksgiving. This year, I’m thankful that no one had to use a fire extinguisher on my dinner.