The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t

I ordered the turkey a week in advance, even called once to verify pick up-time on Monday. They made me wait almost 30 minutes before telling me that the bird wasn’t there. (Mexicans hate admitting a screw up.) They finally said that they had sold my bird to someone else.

They sold my bird? How the hell did that happen?

Later that afternoon, the manager called to say they could get me another one “mañana.” I told him I had lived in Mexico long enough to know what the word mañana meant.

So I wrote my guests that we were having leg of lamb.

Take it or leave it.

The good news was my commercial oven would be delivered in time to cook Thanksgiving dinner. The oven was coming from Mexico City. The delivery guy told me to be home all day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I told him Thursday was out of the question and that I was not going to wait three days at home for a delivery.

He said he would send me an email identifying the day it would be delivered.

I received nothing.

On Tuesday I got a call that the delivery truck was five minutes from my house. I ran all the way home from the university, at one point leaping over a little old lady who was sitting on the sidewalk begging. I got home just as the truck pulled up.

The oven weighed a ton. The delivery guys wrestled it inside the door and turned to leave.

“Wait!” I said. “It needs to go in the other room.”

“Not our job,” replied the one of the delivery men, and they left.

At the last minute on Wednesday, I managed to get my workers to come and move the oven and hook up the gas.

Thanksgiving morning, I decided to start the day swinging under a nice hot shower. I lit incense and candles, put on a Chopin Nocturne, took off my clothes, stepped under the water —- and shrieked .

No hot water. I was out of propane. It was 9 am. Dinner was at 3 pm.

I was at the mercy of the gas company, the only organization in Mexico more tyrannical than a cartel.

It took them two hours to get here. After they left, I showered and did my hair in record time. Screw Chopin.

Then I tried to light the oven. A huge fireball whooshed over me. I rushed to the bedroom to assess the damage. The hair on the top of my head was white. I almost sobbed. However, when I looked closer, I saw that it was the hair product that the flames had turned white. Only a small piece of one eyebrow and a tiny patch of hair on my head was burned.

Unfortunately, it was my cowlick.

Cursing like a marine, I raced back to the shower, and did the hair and makeup thing again. Then I stuffed my hair into a baseball cap, held my breath, and tried lighting the oven once more.

It lit.

My guests would not be required to gnaw on a bloody leg of lamp.

I pulled off dinner, but it was the Thanksgiving that almost wasn’t. Gary took a photo of me slumped in my seat at the table, with my head propped up by my hand and my eyes rolled back.

And that was the best photo. Clearly feeling sorry for me, Gary sent me a photo from last year.

We are going to pretend that the photo is me this year.

Got it?



Goat cheese, olives, various pates, cornichons, crackers


Mangos, Raspberries, and Blue Cheese on Arrugula

Roast Leg of Lamp a la Provencale

Hand-rolled saffron noodles

Truffles, Morels, and Oyster Mushroom Gravy


Homemade ice cream flavored with rosewater

Cranberry Shortbread Tart

Southern Sweet Potato Pie with Praline Topping

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