Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pardon Me! Another Thanksgiving Piece

The eternal question: what to write about for this year's Thanksgiving piece?

I haven't systematically scanned the news yet, but so far, no distinctive stories or memes seem to be rising to the surface: just the perennial banalities, with the admixture of the topical pieties, from surviving Hurricane Sandy to the welcome end of fighting between Israel and the Hamas regime in Gaza. The ever sardonic former-punk-turned-White-House-reporter Julie Mason wisely called for a moratorium on such crap (at least on social media) but she knew she was just spitting in the wind. (This embarrassing piece of pablum by Jody Rudoren of the New York Times can serve as a cautionary example to those who refuse to heed Julie's sage advice.)

President Obama duly pardoned the White House Turkey (after predictably making social-media history in a predictably trivial way by allowing the public to decide—by means of a Facebook poll—which turkey to save); yes, apparently that's what all the new media are good for. As Mason observed on satellite radio a few days ago, the President is not really a man of the people, and has little sense of humor and much less interest in the turkey pardon than his dim-witted but more jocular predecessor. Can't believe that anyone thought this was worth six minutes' of the President's or the nation's time. It's just painful to watch. Do so at your peril: You'd be better off smoking a cigarette.

Given that TV and video watching shortens your life more than smoking does: For sheer perverse delight, I far prefer this infamous train wreck of a ritual from 2008 involving the inimitable Sarah Palin. There are some surprises for her.  Just watch. Slate has the backgrounder. Their video source has vanished, but you can see the footage here. Now there's a turkey.

(Although the distant origins of the turkey-pardoning practice date back to Lincoln, it was Truman who formalized it.) In any case, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were not amused.

And finally, there is this "Hipster Thanksgiving." It seems disturbingly realistic in many ways. In fact, only the urban architectural setting in the outdoor shot convinced me that it had not been shot right here in the Happy Valley.


If all this drives you to drink as well as overeat, I note that the neo-cocktail craze, which shows no signs of abating, has answers. Along with the usual advice—which can be summarized as: drink what you like rather than what you think you are supposed to drink, and remembering that some white wines, such as Rieslings, go with everything, and, given the robustness of the overall Thanksgiving menu, a hearty archetypically American red Zinfandel is perfectly appropriate with the "white meat" of a turkey—we thus find interesting suggestions for mixed drinks appropriate to the season.

This year, some holiday cocktail recipes go fairly far toward not just matching tastes of drink and food, but actually incorporating elements of the food into the drink mixture. "Pilgrim Punch" includes honey, spices, cranberries, and Belgian wheat beer. "Pilgrim's Pumpkin," as the name implies, contains pumpkin purée, along with the liquors, spices, and fruit juices. "Cranberry Thanksgiving Pie" mixes Cruzan rum, Curaçao, and egg white along with spices, maple syrup, and juices (including cranberry; but no whole berries). Another selection of American inventions recommended by our Canadian neighbors includes "Pumpkin Egg Nog" and "Pumpkin Spice Margarita."

Like President Obama's turkey ceremony: not my taste, but if you enjoy it, more power to you. I'll stick with a basic couple of wines and a re-viewing of that Palin video.

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