It’s time to plan. All the periodicals, all the food sites have begun to trot out their turkey tips. We sat down today, awash in recipes we’ve used before or always wanted to use. This year we’re having Thanksgiving at the Cabin for the first time, with a borrowed table set up in front of a blazing fire, and maybe I’ll put out the good silver, my grandmother’s. Isn’t the planning almost the best thing about the holiday? Where will we get the turkey, what kind of turkey will it be? This year we’re going to Hemlock Hill Farm, in Cortlandt Manor — family-owned for over 60 years — and bringing home a broad-breasted white that has spent its short life running around, slyly if stupidly, in a big open pen. We’ll have creamed spinach, as always, and sausage and apple stuffing. Sweet potatoes. We’ll have a new item, maple syrup pie, but of course we’ll bake the old pumpkin, since Gil says we must.
Savage Girl (you won’t read it until Viking brings it out another year from now, so here’s a sneak peek) recreates a Thanksgiving repast circa 1875 Manhattan. I did research into the customs of the time. Imagine a long mahogany table with a burgundy runner down the center, in a dining room belonging to one of the wealthiest families in New York, the Delegates. They consume oyster soup and cod with egg sauce, slivered carrots and celery in crystal boats, a crisp-skinned bird (need we add free range?), lobster salad, stuffed apples, aspic, and superior biscuit, all washed down with champagne. Crystal and gold-edged china. But wait, there’s more… Stewed peaches, ginger cake, pound cake, ribbon cake, figs, walnuts in the shell. Toasts are raised.
It would all be swell if there wasn’t a mute, half-wild teenage girl upstairs, wreaking havoc by refusing to come down and have Thanksgiving with the family that so badly wants her to behave.