There's something about me you should know: I don't trust other people's mashed potatoes. It's possible there's some deep and complex pyschological issue behind this, but I think it's more likely that I just refuse to believe that anyone else could be as dedicated as I am to the task of making sure that ALL the lumps are gone from the finished product. As such, you'll never catch me ordering mashed potatoes in a restaurant or partaking of them voluntarily if they're on the table at a communal gathering. (I also don't trust other people's tuna salad, but that's more to do with a general suspicion of fish that can be stored at room temperature for extended periods of time than it is anything else.)
Do you know what though? I think I would probably eat mashed potatoes if they were made by my friend Jemima. Here is the thing about Jemima: if you ever meet her and she invites you to dinner, you should immediately make a mental note NOT to bring along your significant other---unless a) you're trying to get out of the relationship or b) your significant other for some reason can't eat food, like let's say, I don''t know, that he has his jaw wired shut. Because it's more than likely that this significant other will fall just a little bit in love with Jemima, on account of the fact that she is two parts Nigella Lawson and one part Martha Stewart (but hotter and without the jail time) and even her CEREAL will always taste better than your cereal. Sean has a Pavlovian response to being told we are having dinner at Jemima's; small cartoon hearts float out of his head and he starts to drool just a little. Because seriously, it's not even FAIR what that girl can do with butternut squash. Probably not even legal! Once we popped in for five minutes to pick something up, and the next thing we knew it was two hours later and we'd eaten pork tenderloin with peach chutney, ORGANIC PRODUCE, and apple pie! And the carrots were the kind that you have to peel! They didn't come in a bag already washed and cut into baton shapes! Can you imagine? I'd forgotten they even MADE carrots you had to peel!
So obviously Sean and I both jumped at the chance when Jemima invited us to Thanksgiving dinner (though only one of us immediately went into a dreamy reverie about cranberry sauce, GUESS WHICH ONE.) And let me tell you, she did not disappoint. Trying woefully hard to compete, I decided to make The Most Delicious Thing On Earth, which is the toffee caramel crunch cheesecake I stole from the January issue of Bon Appetit. When Jemima first tried it at a dinner party I had, she actually fell off her chair in delight (which was really quite funny since she was on crutches at the time, plus slightly drunk, and nearly lost her balance.) Since then she's refered to it only as The Porncake, because she's had a few inappropriate dreams about it. Of course, it does have FOUR PACKETS of cream cheese in it, plus a carton of heavy cream, so you actually need a doctor's note before you can eat it, but I'd like to think it's worth clogging a few arteries for. And if you don't think so, then YOU can stay up until midnight smashing up ginger snaps for the crust and fashioning a damn WATER BATH. Oh, you'd like to see a picture of this divine creation of the gods? My goodness, I thought you'd never ask!
So Thanksgiving was great fun and apart from a Minor Caramel Emergency which had Sean running out to the Piggly Wiggly five minutes before we were supposed to be at Jemima's (yes, I said Piggly Wiggly! The South is wacky like that), there were no major moments of panic. Of course, this being only my third Thanksgiving ever---and my knowledge of Thanksgiving coming mostly from episodes of Friends, in particular the one where Brad Pitt shows up and plays a guy who used to be super fat in high school and you can tell he's secretly flirting with Jennifer Aniston and it just wrenches your heart because oh, the poor woman, she never imagined she'd lose him to Angelina Jolie, THAT BITCH, and it was such an innocent time for us all!---I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I thought we were going to have to play football. Or at least watch it. And I totally gave thanks for THAT when I found out we wouldn't.
And Thanksgiving this year was very different from Thanksgiving last year, not least because there were AMERICANS at the table this time. Last year, Sean and I flew to Los Angeles to see my brother, who was at UCLA, ostensibly studying English and History but mostly, as far as I could tell, lazing in hot tubs. All the American kids had gone home for the holidays and it was just the British exchange students left, and so they decided to do Thanksgiving anyway, NEVER MIND the total absurdity of the fact that they weren't actually American and therefore Thanksgiving was kind of a moot point. So it turned out to be just like Christmas but with sweet potatoes and way more drinking, OH MY GOD, THE DRINKING, and I'm sure we were doing it totally wrong (unless the pilgrims and the Indians really DID play Pictionary at 2am) but Sean was the only American there who could've told us how to be more authentic, and HE was so drunk he woke up the next morning with the front pocket of his shirt stuffed full of English candy, and all he could remember was that "the girls put them there." Also he got lost IN THE ELEVATOR.
This year I made everyone go around the circle when we were sitting outside by the bonfire and say what they were thankful for---because that's what they do on Friends!---and everyone kind of rolled their eyes but they did it anyway. And Sean said something really sweet like "I'm thankful to have been able to laze around all morning and watch movies with my girfriend in our pajamas and just spend time with her and do nothing" and I said something really not at all sweet like "I'm thankful that I have a warm coat right now because it's fucking freezing" and so THAT didn't really go as it should have done.
But what I REALLY should have said is "I'm thankful that I have someone who puts the toothpaste on my toothbrush every night when he does his own, and who will always buy me the expensive fig-infused vinegar even though there are other bottles of vinegar on sale for half the price, and who won't ever suggest that it's MY turn to change the cat litter, and who knows that if I was ever really sad, he'd only have to bring me an avocado, a baguette, and some cheese to cheer me up, cookie dough ice cream if it was REALLY bad, and who went to see Legally Blonde with me, even though I said I would never tell anyone and now I have, and who'll never let me go to sleep mad, and who hasn't yet left me for Jemima, even though the one time she made that chilled tomato and basil soup he totally should have done because that was completely amazing and also he could have stolen the recipe for me, and who looks deliciously geeky in his glasses and also a little like Clive Owen when he wears a suit, and who likes watching obscure British TV shows with me even though sometimes I'm not sure if he'll actually get the jokes because you sort of have to be British for some of them, and who finishes every phone call with "love you," and who always checks twice that he's locked both the front door and the back door before going to bed because otherwise it's just ANOTHER thing I'll worry about. I'm so thankful for that."
That's what I should have said. But of course there wasn't time.