The Scoop



Let’s break the rules, shall we?
Last week, former New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton released his “6 Thanksgiving Rules to Live By.” (Check it out online: As someone who loves to cook, and more importantly, someone who really enjoys eating a good meal, I couldn’t wait to see what the author of Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well had to say.
As I reviewed Sifton’s rules, I started to wonder how these guidelines would fly with my family and friends in northeastern Pennsylvania. Let’s just say, I think they’d give me “the bird” (and, no,  I don’t mean a piece of turkey meat) if I put these rules in place. Take a look and see if you could survive the Thanksgiving day experience Sifton outlines:
Rule No. 1: You will make a turkey. Turkey is why you are here. It seems that Sifton has forbidden us from offering guests beef tenderloin or swordfish or a goose.
Really, turkey is traditional Thanksgiving fare? Who knew?! Good thing we have this handy rule in place to guide us as we flounder with our menu planning. We thought we might cook spaghetti and meatballs. Whew. Dinner is saved!
OK, OK. That was a little sarcastic. Sorry. It’s just that this first rule seems to state the obvious and limit us too much all at the same time. If my Aunt Susie is coming to dinner and I only see her once a year, and I know her favorite food is an eye of the round roast, then in addition to turkey, eye of the round she shall have. And nobody can stop me. Nobody.
Rule No. 2: No appetizers and no salads.
Stop. I cannot even begin to imagine the crime scene that would unfold if we failed to offer our guests crudités and homemade rolls before dinner. People love to grab a cup of coffee or tea and nibble on appetizers before dinner. They love it. It prevents low blood sugar attacks, flare-ups of Tourettes  Syndrome, fits of rage and other unpleasantries. And let’s face it, when our mouths are full, there’s less chance we’ll be fighting. We are not 5; we will not spoil our dinner. Puhlease.
As for the salad elimination, for some of us, salad is our vegetable of choice. Salad is multi-purpose and goes with everything. We love our salad and if you take that away from us on Thanksgiving, riots are sure to ensue.
Sifton limits his Thanksgiving menu to turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts and green beans. Period. He said this is more than adequate. Maybe it is for some, but if we tried that, people would be standing in the doorway of the kitchen asking, “Hey, where’s the rest of the food? ”
Rule No. 3: TV is OK because football is part of the holiday, too.
Thanks, Captain Obvious. We’ll take your football game and raise you one A Christmas Story.
Rule No. 4. Make pie. Apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie.
Finally! We agree. We love pie.
But wait. There’s more.
Don’t serve chocolate. Save chocolate for nights of depression; for nights of anxiety.
Mr. Sifton, with all due respect, how dare you? The chocolate pie is sacred. Not only is it a food of the gods, it’s as helpful as alcohol in getting through the holiday. If being confined to a small space with your extended family for hours on end doesn’t inspire some depression and anxiety, I don’t know what will. If ever there was a time for chocolate therapy, this is it.
Rule No. 5: Clean up before bed. You have plenty of people around to help you, do not be afraid to delegate.
Absolutely. There’s nothing like telling your 96-year-old grandma to get off her lazy keister and start cleaning that turkey carcass. Now!
Rule No. 6: Give thanks. That is after all, the whole point of Thanksgiving.
Oh, don’t worry. We’re thankful every single moment of every single day that we don’t have to follow these rules, and we can enjoy all the dysfunction and unconventional twists and turns that is a northeastern Pennsylvania holiday. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to bake a chocolate pie – because I CAN!
That’s the scoop! Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you here again next week.

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