Random Observation/Comment #109: I love mashed potatoes. I know this already. I think anyone that knows me, knows this already. It has been my obsession for the longest time, and I think it directly led to my “fay chai” early years. I even follow the methodology of making the mashed volcano with the bubbling gravy overflowing into the vegetable villages below. I love it because of its versatility and overall awesomeness. Mashed potatoes just go with everything: meats, vegetables, bread, pasta, fries, stuffing, bbq, soup, fruits, ice cream – anything. Regardless of texture, spices, or food group, I am not bias towards experimentation. In fact, to show exactly what I mixed it with, I took pictures of all the different combinations. Despite those raised eyebrows and dry-heaving regurgitations from friends and family, my combinations are surprisingly successful (at least I think so). Mashed potatoes and shrimp tempura – yum. Needless to say, I love Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is not only a day of celebration – it is an entire weekend stuffed (hah) with feasting, sleeping, family timing, and (of course) shopping. I ate and talked and slept and ate and slept and shopped and ate and slept and ate and slept and ate and ate and slept – all in that order over the course of two days. I basically did nothing, but doing nothing was everything I wanted, hoped, dreamed, and fantasized it would be – bliss. The stress dissolved in those mouthfuls of mashed potatoes and I never felt so awake after that food coma.
To many of my aunties, this weekend is an excuse to indulge in their culinary dreams. It seems that they all want nothing more than to cook. I’m not sure if it’s that fulfillment of contributing to the mass of hungry family members or the practice of a skillful art, but either way, I am happy to be the taste tester on the receiving end. This year was as much of a success as the last. I could tell because my taste buds jumped with joy and my belt buckle happily moved from its worn-in notch. The spread across the table left me with such a glorious feeling. Loud and merry conversations about the events over the past years since this reunion filled the room. The eating part of the weekend got out of control very quickly.
While I was stuffing my face and trying every combination of mashed potatoes with every other dish on the table, I saw that everyone was enjoying themselves in one way or another. On one end of the table was the wise elderly groups taste testing their long forgotten favorites. In the middle was the alcoholics’ section making enough commotion and energy to fuel the ends of the table. Finally, on the other end was the satisfied chefs, marveling at their successful feast and analyzing reactions on their dishes.
As a struggling, wannabe-chef, I do understand the beauty of the mix in spices and textures, but I also never forget the reward of the product’s completion and overall influence. After spending hours cooking whatever dish, I could not help myself but stretch my ears to hear a compliment, critique, or general review. I scanned the room looking for that reaction in their faces and responses of helping themselves to seconds or thirds. I yearn for such feedback to better improve myself, but also to be in that personal shining spotlight. I become my own harshest judge, but it fuels that stove to make the next plate better.
My face always seemed to make them smile – I ate every piece as if it were my last. I licked the plate and asked for more. A combination of knowing that feeling of hearing satisfaction, and a desire to compliment the chef, made me say everything that was on my mind about the food. I suggested different dishes and paused in mid-conversations to savor the taste. Trust me, it was not entirely done to boost their egos; every bite and chew just hit the spot. It was just uncontrollable. I hope that this happiness in my reaction contributed to that indescribable feeling of being together – the true spirit of Thanksgiving.
~See Lemons Eat Mashed Potatoes (with everything else)