The Suitcase Lady


November 20, 2007, 1:16 am

I believe I hate turkey dressing as the result of a big misunderstanding when I was 4 years old. Seated at my grandmother’s well-laden, lace tablecloth covered table, I spotted a big bowl of brown stuff. “I want that, please,” I said to my mother. “You’re not going to like it, “she replied. I might note that in her entire life, my mother never made a turkey or dressing. “Please,” I begged.

She put a big scoop on my plate, and I was shocked when I tasted it. I was certain the brown stuff with celery was one of my favorite foods – tuna salad. I’ve never recovered from that moment.

Fortunately, my grandmother made mounds of mashed potatoes and schlag laden pumpkin pies. She also had the best salt and pepper shakers in the world, a pair of Nippers, the RCA Victor Dog. I inherited them and still find them charming.

When my grandmother could no longer produce the Thanksgiving feast, I grew up on chop suey or Swiss steak for the big day. Yet, I longed to be like everyone else in America with a big turkey and mashed potatoes. I could simply say, “No dressing, please.”

As a newlywed, I vowed never to have a Thanksgiving sans turkey. Wild rice would be the stuffing. My first excursion into turkey cookery was memorable. Who would imagine someone hiding a plastic bag of neck bones, hearts and gizzards INSIDE a bird? Not me. I roasted them.

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