Holiday survival tips
Published November 28, 2002 in issue #43 of The Hook
Problem: You, the host or hostess, emerge from the kitchen bearing a hot, glistening, savory turkey that has taken most of the day to stuff, string, and cook. In your zeal to reach the appreciative masses assembled at the table, you trip on an errant toy, and the turkey slides off the tray and onto the floor.
Solution: Quickly pick up the dirty turkey and the trimmings. March confidently back toward the kitchen, smiling broadly, and explain that you'll be back in five minutes with the "other" turkey you have prepared.
Problem: Aunt Erma insists on bringing her own special lamb kabobs to the holiday feast. However, Aunt Irma is no Emeril.
Solution: Take a cue from Jerry Seinfeld, famous for stashing "Grandma Mema's mutton," and simply place the offending meat chunks in a jacket pocket. Unlike Jerry, though, you will have previously lined the pocket with plastic– not Aunt Erma's antique linen napkins.
Problem: You're a greenie, and you know that hosting a holiday party implies heavy consumption of water, Charlottesville's most precious substance.
Solution: Learn from Hook essayist Jenny Gardiner, and add some levity to the invitation with one of these gems: "Come eat and drink and be of good cheer, you just can't use our bathroom this year." Or: "The party's at our house, the food will be hot. So come and enjoy; just don't use our pot. Or, finally: "Jingle bells, jingle bells, it's party time for you. Come for cocktails, just don't use the loo."
Problem: You've planned an intimate cocktail party, only to learn that Uncle Bartholemew from Keswick wants to bring his trophy wife. Unfortunately, she's a trophy in looks only.
Solution: Press on, but carefully steer the conversation away from pesky subjects like world peace and toward the wisdom of breast implants and Botox treatments. Innocently ask how they met, and you'll dine out on these stories for years.
Problem: Cousin Wayne has had one DUI too many, and there's a high likelihood that reporting for his nights in jail means he'll have to miss that candlelight service at church.
Solution: You don't want to explain this one to the pastor. Best bet is to avoid the problem by calling Chandler, Franklin & O'Bryan. If this law firm can't provide a free cab ride, they may be able to shorten the incarceration.
Problem: It's the day after Thanksgiving, and all the visiting relatives are suffering sleepiness due to the Tryptophan in the turkey leftovers.
Solution: That's not a problem. If you insist that it's a problem, see below.
Problem: Half of your downtown friends are vegetarians, but somehow a "California Roll" holiday dinner just doesn't sound appropriately festive.
Solution: Serve up tofurkey, the latest vegetarian alternative to traditional food. No grease, no little bag of innards, and it costs just $19.99 at Whole Foods.
Problem: You're not a vegetarian, and you don't particularly relish eating a mound of tofu shaped like a turkey. But you want to serve something with a funny name like the vegetarians get to do.
Solution: Try a turducken, a chicken in a duck stuffed into a turkey. That ought to provide dinner table conversation, if nothing else. Only problem is, the turducken needs to cook for 12 or 13 hours at 190 degrees, so you'll have to begin preparation well in advance. Slap down $108 at Foods of All Nations and take one home.