With a few days off, schedules and such that generally keep life in some semblance of order tend to go by the wayside. That can be good – we all need a break from routine from time to time. Idle time can also lead to random thoughts, and this Thanksgiving produced a wealth of them.
In the continuing story of getting Granny healthy, we ended up spending a little time at OCH over the weekend. Hospitals are not exactly known to be famous culinary outposts, I grant you. They are second only to airlines when it comes to being the butt of food jokes – with possibly one exception. At a culinary competition I attended a year or so ago, the winner turned out to be the corporate chef for a company that serviced a group of hospitals. When I asked him if I could expect the same lobster risotto as an inpatient in one of his facilities, his response was not encouraging. But I did leave with a slightly better attitude about hospital food.
Despite the normative assumptions about medical meals, I am still a curious soul. So while we were hanging out in the ER waiting area, I investigated the vending machines. I expected to find the usual candy bars, nuts and hot fries, and there was indeed a machine for that. What surprised me was the selection of frozen food. I peered into the glass and saw what appeared to be a pint of Blue Bell ice cream. Could it be? Surely that was an empty carton and the real ice cream was somewhere else. Then I looked closer – there was also an ice cream bar, a Push-Up, and a rainbow-bullet-shaped Popsicle of sorts. Dessert was covered, but what about the entrée? No problem. As I looked closer, I found riblets, barbecue wings, and a pair of White Castle Burgers. A veritable buffet, and for a handful of quarters.
Once they moved Granny to another part of the hospital, I found myself walking by the snack bar once in a while. There was a sign outside announcing that it was National Seafood Month, and another sign below the first with a picture of a fish taco. As regular readers know, I am on a perpetual search for a good fish taco, so I asked the family members walking with me if they were tired enough of Thanksgiving leftovers yet to justify joining me for one. I guess they weren’t. In any case, I checked on the world-wide interweb and discovered that National Seafood Month was October, so I guess I’ll have to wait till next year for my hospital taco, anyway.
On the day after Thanksgiving I usually try to hunker down at home and avoid any signs of shopping. But late Thanksgiving night we had braved the parking lot at Wal-Mart and to our great surprise found no line for the hot item we were searching for. Friday, then, had some hope. After another delicious lunch of leftovers, I headed down to the west end of Highway 12 to see what I could see. And to what did my wondering eyes should appear? It wasn’t eight tiny reindeer. It was Hobie Hobart’s hot dog cart (hey, that rhymes), parked in front of JC Penney. After saving $46 dollars (so the cashier told me) at Jacque Penee’s, I wondered if I needed to reward myself somehow. The wind blowing around the cart smelled pretty hot-dog-gone good, but I soon learned his daily special was a pork chop sandwich. So yes, I rewarded myself, and fully rationalized it by eating my leftover turkey atop a salad that night.
Thanksgiving is usually for turkey, but I have a beef. At least a week before Thanksgiving, one of the stores in which I work began playing Christmas music. I like Christmas music as much as the next guy, but I like it after Thanksgiving. But here’s the reality: we sang three, maybe four, Thanksgiving songs at church over the last two Sundays – and I think that’s all the Thanksgiving music there is. After some deep thought, I have come to the conclusion that until Mariah Carey, Scotty McCreery and the like begin producing top ten Thanksgiving – themed albums, we’re stuck with early and excessive playing of Christmas songs. The upside of the arrival of Christmas music, however, is the arrival of all that fun Christmas food. Not many weeks ago I found the candy cane Oreos with the bits of peppermint in the cream. Sitting next to them were just a few bags of white fudge-covered Oreos, which certainly rank in the top ten cookies on the planet. I bought both kinds. They tend to disappear quickly, and I already had to reach to the back of the shelf for the white ones. Believe it or not, I did not open either bag till this week. Finally, in my own unofficial merging of the holidays, I toasted Thanksgiving dinner with a little glass of Barber’s Egg Nog. And a Merry Random Thanksgiving it was.
Jay Reed is a local foodie and pharmacist. The culinary tastes expressed here are his and do not necessarily reflect the appetites of the Starkville Daily News or individual members of its staff. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org .