The choice of an appetizer was going to be easy. Two of the three sounded yucky to me – the turkey rinds with hot sauce and the crispy pork belly with huckleberry jam. The third was deviled eggs with Spanish paprika and radish greens.
I loved my mother’s deviled eggs when I was growing up, but I was worried that a trendy, upscale restaurant in Kansas City might have found a way to foul them up. I was wrong; they were tasty.
The problem was that I had misread the menu. It wasn’t a choice of one. Also on the plate were the fried turkey skin and a piece of charred pork fat. I ate the pork fat and left the turkey skin, hoping my sister, Donna, who selected the restaurant for our Thanksgiving dinner, wouldn’t be offended. Then I noticed she hadn’t eaten hers either.
My sister and I are very different. She likes to try all the latest trendy, odd-menu restaurants. Given the choice, I would opt for the same Midwestern steak houses and barbecue joints I liked when I was growing up in Missouri.
In all the years that we have been visiting Kansas City for Thanksgiving, though, it hasn’t been a problem. When my parents were alive, we always gathered at Donna and her husband Homer’s house for the traditional Thanksgiving feast – turkey and the trimmings. Even after they died more than a decade ago, the tradition continued, although Donna added more fancy menu items.
Then last year, things changed. We all voted to forego all the hours of cooking and clean-up and try going out to dinner instead. My sister picked out a nice, small restaurant that was offering a traditional Thanksgiving meal. It was really good, and we had lots of time to watch football on television, both before and after the meal.
We decided to do it again. When I asked Donna if we were going to the same restaurant, she said no, that she had picked a restaurant overlooking Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza shopping district. During dinner, we would be able to watch the illumination of the Christmas lights that outline every roofline, doorway and window on the Plaza, she said.
She wouldn’t tell me the name of the restaurant, though, because she said she didn’t want me looking it up on the internet and complaining about the menu or the expense.
“We’re paying for it,” she said. “You’ll like it.”
Uh-oh, I thought. It’s going to be a menu filled with things I don’t recognize. I’m going to hate it.
I was wrong on both counts. Oh, there were things that were new to me, including an apple-nut salad with some sprigs in it that my wife said was a fancy form of lettuce.
“Looks like stuff I pay U.S. Lawns to keep out of our yard,” I said.
She gave me a look, and I shut up. Besides, along came the turkey, country ham and eight or nine side items (only a couple of which I didn’t recognize) served family style. It was yummy, and we got done in time to see the second half of the Ole Miss-Mississippi State game.
Just another traditional Thanksgiving.