Rendered Fat Content


"We both want family for the holidays, but we're settling for turkey again."

By mid-November I've grown weary of braises. My larder looks like a mid-winter Moravian supermarket with overflowing bins of carrot, parsnip, turnip, celery root, potato, garlic, and onion aching for another long, slow, covered bake. I can't bare to bake anything anymore. The quick chop chore, the boring obligatory stock pour-over, the tough cut tucked in underneath, with a splash of wine or cider. This all seemed wilder and more attractive back when it was just an emerging seasonal alternative. Now, it seems like the only game in town and I know for certain, before the first die roll, that Colonel Mustard will have done the deed in the drawing room with the freaking candlestick. Not an ounce of mystery or discovery to be found within any of it.

My menu leaves me feeling stupid, uninspired.
I've already grown tired of the seasonal cuisine before the season's half expended. I extended my interest through the adding apples stage and well into the alternative uses of the humble parsnip phase, but the tastes grew too familiar too soon. My appetites wane. What wine should one serve when the entree's ennui again? A dry white which, if over-indulged, might blind me overnight? A bold red like a big brass band at a mortuary service? A humble rose over-reminding me that it's no longer summer anywhere anymore? I've entered the DoltDrums, the initial stage of my annual seasonal affective disorder. The light, or whatever remains of it, casts wan and washed-out waxy shadow across our supper table. My reading lamp blew up two light bulbs in quick succession. It looks like I might have to rewire that baby again.

I'd rather rewire myself. I ain't no snowbird aching to flee to the southland. I intend to take my seasonal stand standing up straight, but man, the gravity works overtime this time of year. I dance in lead boots and cannot seem to muster much of a hoot for engaging in anything. I sit in the predawn dark wondering whether I can pull off another breach-birthed essay this day. My words have not merely escaped me, but also wounded the warden overseeing their incarceration. It's hunt and peck and then hunt some more, each sentence a chore, each paragraph another emerging impossibility. I produce parsnips again, par boiled before basting in butter, a light brown crust containing the sweet mush inside, a dreary viable alternative for potatoes again. Everything seems to come labeled again, again. I am not my own friend right now.

I ache for a halfway decent open fire roast, but the fire pit's under at least a foot of snow. Maybe we could just go out to supper somewhere, except every restaurant's running seasonal specials worse than home. A blackened Branzini could hit the spot, if I can source a tomato with texture and taste intact and an immature fennel bulb or two. We could pretend we've taken a cruise and washed up on some Adriatic beach somewhere with a driftwood fire and a local wine that tastes like pine tar. A simple hamburger could prove an improvement, perhaps, just hold that ever-mundane side of fries. Should I be buying that Thanksgiving goose today? No, The Muse replies. We both want family for the holidays, but we're settling for turkey again.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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