A Very Pandemic Kitchen Thanksgiving
Spoiler: We canceled Thanksgiving (sort of)
Hello everyone and welcome to a Very Pandemic Kitchen Thanksgiving! For the sake of not dragging this out: we have canceled Thanksgiving. (Well, kinda.)
Around a month ago I emailed you all about our plans to host friends in person for Thanksgiving and the resounding response I got back from all of you was that this was a very stupid idea. “Don’t do it!” you said. “This is incredibly irresponsible.” “What are you even thinking?” was a common response as well.
But, like most people, we thought we had a good protocol set up. We were going to require PCR testing with a negative result and a multi-day full quarantine leading up to the date, and we view our friends as being trustworthy and responsible enough to avoid situations where they might catch covid.
The thing is, it’s not a matter of trustworthiness or responsibility. Short of literally not leaving your home you can do everything doctors, public health officials, and our stupid government has recommended and still contract covid. Thanks to your comments, and, you know, the overwhelming amount of data saying that we should cancel Thanksgiving I was feeling less and less secure in the decision, and those of you who reached out to say “what the hell?” remained in my mind. And then, right on schedule, a friend who had contracted covid in January—when the government was still assuring people that COVID-19 wasn’t an American problem—again tested positive after receiving a rapid test.
What are you doing for your own Thanksgiving?
We suspect our friend’s test is a false positive (in part because it looks like having antibodies does help to protect against reinfection) and thankfully she’s feeling fine. We’re not gambling with this, though, and we’ve canceled our in-person group Thanksgiving. The risks are just too high, and the U.S. is being absolutely crushed by infections. While changing Thanksgiving plans sucks, it’s not worth getting sick over. Trump lost the election folks, we need to make sure that as many people as possible live long enough to see him get forcibly evicted from the White House and then repeatedly prosecuted in the coming years.
Here’s what we’re doing instead:
Our immediate podmates, who live in the apartment underneath us and who we see daily, share the exact same protocols as us and have the same level of risk. We’ll see the two of them for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.
Our additional friends who have since been uninvited (sad face) will make their own plans. We know that three of them—who are in their own pod—will be dining together. Another couple will be eating a delivered dinner from the famed market Citarella, which was ordered for them by family who have since canceled their own plans to visit NYC. And two individual people will not be seeing anyone.
We’ll be delivering food via courier to the two individual friends, both of whom live in Brooklyn in buildings next door to each other. They will each receive a complete meal with enough food for ample leftovers. The pod of three will also be receiving an assortment of dishes, and will be bringing us some of their own (they live in our neighborhood and we’ll do a contact-free exchange). While we’d happily provide them with a full Thanksgiving they’ve let us know that they want to cook their own beloved family dishes. Plus, two of them are vegetarians, so giving them a big pile of country ham feels a tad aggressive.
We like our adjusted Thanksgiving plans for a number of reasons. It lessens the risk for everyone involved, and that’s essential. We still get to cook for our friends, which is in itself a reason to hold Thanksgiving. We’ll be able to help our friends who are quarantining for the holiday, and make sure that they don’t have to abruptly prepare a meal which, let’s face it, isn’t easily thrown together. If they’re free we’ll still get to see our friends via Zoom, eating the same foods as us , and in that way will have somewhat of a communal meal. And we’ll still get to prepare a massive, elaborate feast, which is, let’s be frank, my shit.
Here’s what’s on the menu, which this year is pulling from a few different regions of the American South.
Pimento cheese with pickled ramps and bread and butter pickles (all homemade) from South
Deviled eggs topped with lumpfish caviar
Sliced country ham from Benton’s with red eye gravy
Mac and cheese from Jubilee
Leek bread pudding from Ad Hoc at Home
Seared duck fat Brussels sprouts with fried onions (subbing in olive oil for the vegetarians)
Buttermilk mashed potatoes
Amish fried apples from The New York Times
Cracklin’ cornbread from South
Hummingbird cake from The Good Book of Southern Baking
Sweet potato pie
And some extra surprises!
The surprises will not be disclosed here as I think some of our Thanksgiving friends are also subscribers (thanks guys!)
Whatever your own plans are, please be safe. The virus is real, our hospitals are overtaxed and our insurance system is one of the worst in the developed world. Gathering together means people dying. Do you want to be responsible for killing your parents or grandparents? I’m hoping the answer is no. So do what you can to limit your gatherings, and have a happy (if weird) Thanksgiving!
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(Photo credit: Petar Jurcevic)