Recalling a Moving Thanksgiving Dinner

By HELEN FADINI | Nov 22, 2017

In the last 54 years, I’ve not made Thanksgiving dinner only twice, once because of our daughter’s wedding, and last year they wouldn’t let me out of the hospital. 

When I first attempted making Thanksgiving dinner, I was newly married, six months pregnant and had used the oven only to store newspapers. On that fateful day, I stuffed the bird and popped it in the oven, only to learn later that I was supposed to remove the neck and bag of gizzards before stuffing.

I’ve come a long way since then and consider myself a seasoned cook. I’ve since taken on Easter, Christmas Eve and any excuse for a family dinner.

One year I decided to try something a little different. After searching for  hours online, I found an individual-plated fruit salad guaranteed to cleanse the palate after a long cocktail hour of cheeses, salamis and pepperoni breads. The salad looked too beautiful to eat: sliced strawberries, pineapple, a half moon of melon and kiwi, all sitting on a lush green kale leaf.

Preparations for this one course took longer than the entire dinner. Fruit had to be bought at the perfect moment of ripeness. Any fruit that became overripe had to be consumed by the cook or thrown out.

On Thanksgiving morning, the turkey was stuffed, cranberry sauce chilling, vegetables and potatoes prepped. It was time. 

I laid out the 15 white plates and realized I had forgotten the kale. I called to my husband, “You know that flowering kale outside next to the scarecrow? Could you bring it in?”

He shook his head and said, “You want that green stuff outside?” He read my look and didn’t wait for an answer.

I snipped the leaves off the plant, then rinsed and dried them before placing one on every plate. Then I artfully arranged the colorful fruit salad on top. My masterpiece was completed just as the guests arrived.

When the appetizer course was over, we carried our drinks into the dining room. Everyone stood behind their assigned chair as our eldest said “Grace,” then we each recited what we were thankful for. When it was our youngest son’s turn, he said, “I’m thankful I don’t have to eat those little bugs crawling around my plate!”

I looked down and saw little black dots moving around my work of art. Yikes! I was supposed to dip the kale into a quick bath of boiling and then iced water. It all had to be thrown out, but I still get asked when I’m making it again. Maybe I’ll surprise them this year. 

Helen Fadini lives in Washington Township, N.J., and Beach Haven.      






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