Friday, November 24, 2006

Holiday Feedbag

So how was your Thanksgiving meal? Good? Good. Want to hear about mine? OK...

I should begin by reminding you that my family is not a family of cooks. We are not even a family of one cook. We cook when we need to, but we don't enjoy it, and we don't do it all that impressively well. Even if our holiday meal today had involved more than five people, we still would have gone to a restaurant. It is just what we do. The only exception is Christmas, when all of the area supper clubs are closed and we are forced to fend for ourselves, but I am not kidding you when I say our Christmas dinners have actually, more than once, involved frozen pizza and hot dogs. Last year we brought buckets of KFC to my grandmother's house for Christmas dinner... day-old KFC, no less, since even the Colonel shuts down on Christmas. Or was that Thanksgiving? It may have actually been Thanksgiving. I can't recall right now, but it doesn't really matter as I'm sure we've had Holiday KFC more than once, and at least one time was likely on Christmas.

My point is that visiting a restaurant on Thanksgiving is really nothing new to me. Usually, however, we (and by "we," I mean "my mother") will pick a restaurant in advance, make a reservation, and do whatever organizing and directing is necessary to get us all to the right place at the right time. This year, my parents were apparently feeling reckless and carefree, and they seemingly decided to just wing it instead.

From my sister's apartment, we all piled in my parents' car, and my mother turned to us and said, "Well? Where should be go? Should we try [insert name of restaurant I've never heard of since I live five hours away from my sister's town]? Or should we maybe go to [insert name of other restaurant I have never heard of since, again, I do not live here]?" My sister helpfully reported that [insert name of second restaurant] apparently sucks, so we went to the first place instead. That place ended up being less "family-style Thanksgiving-friendly supper-club" and more "general bar and grill," emphasis on the "bar." There were approximately six people inside, all smoking and wearing Harley-Davidson jackets (two also wore leather riding chaps for that extra-festive holiday look) and watching some sort of sporting event on TV. (OK, so it was a football game, but I don't care enough about such things to have had any idea who was playing.) Today's special at this smoky, Harley-friendly sports bar was chicken tacos. A fine choice on an average Thursday, I suppose, but for some crazy reason, we had turkey and mashed potatoes on our minds today. We went back to the car to contemplate Plan B.

Plan B was some supper club in North Fond du Lac (presumably just a few minutes' drive from "regular" Fond du Lac, where we happened to be at that moment). And it actually would have been just a few minutes' drive, I suppose, if we had had any idea where to find the street on which this restaurant was located. You would think that in a town with no more than eight different streets, any one particular street would be easy enough to find. Unfortunately, all but two of those streets are dead ends, and the remaining two are separated from each other by a train track where a five-mile-long train apparently runs through every seven minutes on average.

After seeing more of [insert road I should really know the name of considering we drove back and forth on the same stretch of it at least four times] than I'd ever hoped or planned to, and after seriously considering returning to "regular Fond du Lac" to eat at Old Country Buffet (yes, Old Country Buffet... I haven't been there in years and I can't believe I almost ate there just one day after mocking it in a post), we finally found the right street and, consequently, the restaurant. And it only took us an hour and a half to get there (from our starting point less than six miles away).

Anyway, the meal was good--just your regular turkey dinner with all the usual extras, including the requisite pumpkin pie for dessert. My only complaint is we ate at such a weird time--even earlier than the elderly folks' 4:00 p.m. early bird specials I've heard of--which means I was hungry again by 8:00.

A major bonus to having Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant is there are no dishes to do after the meal. The major drawback, of course, is no leftovers. With no extra potatoes or stuffing to snack on, I was forced to scavenge through my parents' fridge and cupboards instead. And I am not proud of my choices. The food my parents keep on hand isn't even all that appealing, really, but for some reason, I can't stop shoveling it in while I am here. Part of it is some strange fascination with the unknown wonders in the mystery snack cabinet (Did you know Hershey's made cookies? Did you know those Herr's chips New Girl on The Office was looking for a few weeks ago are actually a real-life brand? I didn't, but apparently I needed to try both...), and part of it is some misguided idea that what I eat while in this house "doesn't count"--you know, sort of like some people think having sex with a stranger while on vacation doesn't count (or so I've heard).

Since it is Friday, this Thanksgiving food-related story is all a long and winding way of getting to a Friday Five list for the week, so I shall move on to that now, OK? I have been in my parents' house for less than 12 hours at the moment and already I have consumed likely a full day's worth of calories and fat grams. What's worse, though, is I didn't even enjoy most of those calories and fat grams. Pointless and unsatisfying binging is what that is, and yet, for some reason, I persist.

As a case in point, here are five things I have eaten since stepping foot in this house, regardless of whether I really "needed" or even liked what I was eating.

  1. Three handfuls of Snyder's flavored pretzel mix (oddly, the bag does not indicate just what "flavor" they are supposed to be, and after eating some I'm actually still not sure)

  2. Two honey roasted peanuts that were very disappointingly stale (hence, the two-nut limit)

  3. One piece of pizza flavored beef jerky (yes, it really was as bad as that sounds, but when there are this many different meat snacks around, I couldn't help but be a bit curious)

  4. Nine Totino's pizza rolls (which I ate despite the fact that after one roll I was well aware they were fairly old and freezer burned)

  5. Half a bag of Turtle Chex Mix (not nearly as tasty or addictive as the Sweet n' Salty mix I have warned you about once or twice, but still the least offensive item on this list)

Thank God I am only here for two days. Who knows what I might put in my mouth in the course of a week.


Darren McLikeshimself said...

I prefer Bavarian Dutch Style Pretzels.

Man! What is it with me and Say Anything... this week?!

The Other Girl said...

But . . . but . . . leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving dinner.

LC said...

Oh man, Stefanie, your visit to your parents' eating sounds like what I do when I go visit mine every week.

I get there and is non-stop eating until I am ready to leave their place.

Sadly this has a bad effect on my mother, since she tells me about all these diets and worries about my eating habits, for she thinks I do this daily.

In my head, I keep thinking, 'it doesn't count!'

Obviously my hips think the opposite.

Happy day after thanksgiving!

stefanie said...

Darren--I don't know, but for some reason, I keep thinking back on your comment the other day and thinking how mocking the people at Old Country buffet wasn't ageism, actually. Fat-ism or ugly-ism, sure, but I didn't say anything about the elderly. ;-) I got your point, however. And every time I see that movie, I do wonder about the significance of the Bavarian Dutch Style pretzels line.

Other Girl--I know! I know! That's why I said that was the major drawback, of course! Less work and no dishes to do does make it almost a toss-up, however.

LC--Wow. I would have to refrain from doing that if I visited them every week. Luckily I go there only a few times a year, and my dad is awesome because he always says "You're too skinny; we've got to put some meat on your bones." He's insane, of course, but at least they're not giving me dieting advice.

guinness girl said...

DUDE. What's wrong with chicken tacos on Thanksgiving? Just kidding. I am trying not to be appalled at your restaurant-going family. Instead...WTF? Pizza-flavored beef jerky? What is this world coming to? That sounds disgusting.

stefanie said...

GG--I know. Chicken tacos are fine, but on Thanksgiving? No. A friend of mine who reads but almost never comments just sent me an email saying that story reminds him of the family in The Christmas Story going to a Chinese place for Christmas dinner. I was actually thinking the same thing but just didn't end up working it into the post.

Oh and you're right: pizza-flavored jerky IS disgusting. Don't try it.