After I place my order with the barista she says “mmmmm Thanksgiving in a cup.” She’s right—a chai latte is Thanksgiving in a cup. The aroma of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger embody so many of the things I associate with the holidays.
I peruse the selection of goodies artfully arranged in the glass display case. The cafe has decorated it with garlands of leaves—orange, red, gold—twining in, out, and between the trays. I spy my favorite.
“I’ll take one of those,” pointing to the triangular shaped pastry baked to a golden brown and topped with a light toffee colored drizzle.
“Would you like it heated?”
My eyes widen in appreciation. “Yes, please, thank you.”
I move to the end of the counter and pay for my order. While waiting I scan the selection of magazines. I grab the Thanksgiving edition of Bon Appetit and find my way to a table by the window. There I can divide my time between reading and daydreaming as the sun advances over the Chugach Range.
I wrap my hands around the cup and lift it to my nose to inhale the spicy sweet scent. The warmth of the cup is welcome. I sip slowly testing the temperature on my lips and tongue. A little hot so I gently blow on the liquid.
In my best impersonation of Julia Child, a little haughty, a little falsetto, I whisper “Bon Appetit.” One of my guilty pleasures is reading cookbooks and cooking magazines, recipes in particular. It isn’t that I want to make all the mouthwatering dishes. In fact, I don’t. I much prefer watching someone else (preferably male) do the cooking. Female chefs definitely can go toe to toe with any male chef but it’s my guilty pleasure and I have a gender preference when it comes to watching someone cook. If he shops, cooks, and does dishes, that would be a culinary trifecta in my book.
Pulling the magazine closer, I settle into my seat. I have a couple of hours to kill until Mom gets off work so we can go to a movie this afternoon. I flip Bon Appetit over and open the back cover. My finger slides over the list of recipes looking for the one that might deliver that perfect bite. Nothing catches my eye so I flip it back to the front and begin the gastronomical journey of creating a feast for the ultimate holiday. Although I doubt that is possible. One already exists.
I lift my eyes to the window and stare at the sparsely filled parking lot. I don’t see the parking lot but instead see Aunt Esther’s kitchen. A number of women gather at the far end eagerly discussing something related to the meal we would soon enjoy. Definitely not a place for an eight year old. I wander through to the dining room where the table has been festively set with a holiday tablecloth and place settings for each of us. The men gather in the living room to talk college football.
Once seated at the dining table and grace said, the dance begins. Bowls, platters, and gravy boats are passed in a circle round and round the table as we each dish our favorites onto our plate. Occasionally I need a little help. Those bowls are heavy. I finally have what I consider the best holiday fruit salad evER! on my plate. A creamy concoction of marshmallow and lemon folded into a mound of whipped cream with cans of fruit cocktail, mandarin oranges, bananas, and pineapple generously added to create what would soon be the perfect bite. I scoop some onto my fork and start to raise it to my mouth when the person on my right asks for the potatoes. The person on my left reaches for them and passes the bowl directly in front of me right below my chin. How rude! That fruit salad was almost to my lips. Instead of waiting my fork continues to my mouth going over the arm passing potatoes in front of me. I couldn’t wait. I close my eyes savoring that perfect bite of fruit salad. Everyone laughs but I don’t care. I have heaven in my mouth.
The day ends with the women in the kitchen putting away the leftovers. Mary Beth and Janelle play a game with me and my brother on the living room floor. The men watch television or read. Uncle Ernie is asleep on the couch. To me this really is the perfect bite of holiday.