A double-barreled gratitude for us at Schloss Bodissey: not only is it Thanksgiving, but today is also the Baron’s and my wedding anniversary. How truly fortunate we are!
Every family has different holiday traditions. Entering into marriage, each of the partners brings ‘the creed, the cult and the code’ of those feast days from their own family of origin and from there the two people begin to negotiate what will constitute their holiday ritual(s). An example: during most of my life, a roast turkey was the main feature of this November feast. As the years wore on it dawned on me how much I truly loathed that bird. Except for the beautifully browned skin and the giblets, there was nothing to love. Thus began my search for a substitute.
Back in the time when there was still a small specialty butcher shop in town, I could order capon (and lots of other meats that have since gone out of style. Sweetbreads, anyone?). With the coming of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods into the area, that store was squeezed out. These two big stores that were responsible for the demise of The Carriage House don’t even know what capon is, much less how to order one. Like other craftsmen, real butchers are disappearing. The only capon I could find was online, in Missouri, and far beyond our budget. Sigh.
Determined to stick with poultry, we moved on to duck. One year I even learned how to spatchcock one and what to do with the lovely rendered fat. Spatchcocking is a nice strategy for almost any kind of poultry. But not for this year’s Thanksgiving supper. Since the future Baron is our only guest, we’ll be having quail, marinated in the fB’s mixture. The fB is always happy to eat, and as accommodating to my peccadilloes as his father has always been.
Time to turn the quail in their marinade again. Not only do I love the flavor but sans stuffing they cook in twenty minutes or so. I’ll probably cover them lightly with buttered parchment paper so they don’t dry out.
Sides? Roasted potatoes, a relish tray, homemade cranberry sauce, and haricots verts with slivered almonds. I had planned on carrots and/or sweet potatoes, but virtue and sloth won out over the carb load those would provide.
Funny how life minimalizes everything as one approaches the gates of infinity. Someday, when I have more energy and there are no quail awaiting their turn in the oven, I will tell you the story of holding my very first brace of quail in one hand and a French cookbook in the other. The latter unveiled the mysteries of plucking feathers, cleaning out the innards, and roasting one of the most memorable meals I ever prepared. I was eleven years old at the time; that experience was to define many years of culinary adventures.
But I forgot: this is a day for gratitude! Besides, my good fortune in finding the Baron, in raising my children, etc. there are particular ones for this year. The main gratias I offer to the universe? That Hillary Clinton isn’t president. Another? That during our Thanksgiving supper there won’t be any smartphones or politics. Just good food, a wine picked out by our sommelier son and lots of laughter.
We will raise our first glass to toast you, the readers of Gates of Vienna. May God bless you all.