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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Feathers

Yes, feathers. Not the figurative kind that fill leftoid heads, but the real kind that cover birds. We are going light today. Our topic is feathers and how they nearly produced a civil war in the Diplomad clan, and how echoes of that strife apparently will reverberate on the 4th of July.

As the six regular readers of this blog are painfully aware, during the Reagan years I served for a time at the UN in New York. We loved New York City, even with all its inconveniences especially with two rambunctious boys. Schooling was a problem as the local PS was, well, pretty bad. When two of the vastly overpaid teachers at the school told us that they would never send their own kids there, we decided to yank our boys out and send them--at considerable cost to the Diplomad bottom line--to private schools. One went to a school run by Irish Catholic nuns, who wanted no parental involvement, "Thank you very much, but we know how to do this." The older son went to one run by strangely liberal, yet oddly conservative Jews who wanted lots of parental involvement in the school as long as the parents did what the school wanted. Hey, it's New York. Live with it.

Well, as it does every year, the Thanksgiving holiday rolled around. You must understand we had spent most of our lives overseas. The boys had been born in Spain, and hardly had been in the US. Educated abroad, they--God help me--had grown to love soccer football soccer with both of them becoming (and remaining to this day) rabid fans of Spain's La Furia Roja. Their grip on Americana was a bit weak. Please remember that as this saga proceeds.

Another piece of background which you will need. My Spanish wife hates, detests, abhors, loathes, etc, feathers and any creature which sports them. She has a special wrath for chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese. She cannot stand the thought of fowl on the meal plate. I have seen her blanche and break out into a cold sweat at fancy diplo dinners when served quail, duck or some other feather-bearing beast. It is not funny; better said, she has no sense of humor about this matter. My efforts to convince her that chicken tastes just like iguana have had no positive effect. Whenever we go to a restaurant, regardless of what she orders, she insists on, ahem, grilling the waiter on whether any foul fowl was involved in the making of her pending meal, "Uh, no ma'am, our salmon is, uh, salmon. It's a fish, not a bird." "Yes, yes, but the rice and the vegetables, were they cooked with chicken?" I am used to it by now.

Thanksgiving Day in New York, 1985. My older son, then about six was in a bad mood. I asked what was wrong, "You have no school today. Mom is making a nice Thanksgiving meal. What's wrong?" He glared at me, "The Pilgrims did not eat paella! They ate turkey!"

Explanation. Given the Diplowife's aversion to feathery creatures, our overseas Thanksgiving Day meals consisted of seafood paella. My wife had, ahem, implied in some way . . . oh, heck, she flat out told the kids that the Pilgrims ate paella with the Indians. Maybe she was thinking about Cortez and Pizarro, I don't know, but anyhow the kids had gotten into their heads that paella was the meal on Thanksgiving. Now in NY, the older boy had been asked the previous day to make a presentation at school on Thanksgiving. He, of course, reported that the English Pilgrims sat down and shared paella with the Native Americans. This caused a bit of a commotion and, I guess, led to some considerable ridicule, or what the politically correct nanny-staters now would label "bullying."

He was furious with us. He was refusing to eat paella and demanded a turkey. Even my wife was shocked into submission by the uncompromising fury coming from the tyke. It was Thanksgiving Day. I had to find a turkey in Manhattan. I dashed out of our building on the upper east side. All of the supermarkets were closed. A turkey! My kingdom for a turkey! I wandered the cold, darkening desolate concrete canyons, my despair growing, and threatening to overwhelm me. I had let down my kids! The wages of sin, the consequences of falsehoods, God give me a sign that You will allow me to redeem myself . . . wait! A deli! Still open but about to close! I ran in! Turkey sandwiches! They must have a turkey somewhere! A bizarre negotiation followed in which I finally convinced the suspicious Pakistani owner of the "Jewish" deli to sell me a whole kosher turkey at the price per pound of the sliced sandwich meat. I paid him a fortune--in cash--for a small bird about the size of a Chihuahua and ran like the Grinch with my turkey under my arm.

My kids had turkey that day, and every other Thanksgiving since then has featured a big bird on the table. My wife refuses to sit anywhere near it, and has her own separate fish-based meal.

This will be an issue on the Fourth of July. The Thanksgiving paella got moved to Independence Day. The kids, now grown, of course, alas, are starting to make noises of impending rebellion against paella and in favor of hot dogs and other beast meat. The Diplowife mistrusts hotdogs, even the kosher all-beef ones, as stealth chicken missiles. She does not want anything with the potential of bearing fowl touching our BBQ grill or being anywhere near anything else that might be cooking. It appears that we might have a split Fourth meal. One side of the family eating chicken wings and hotdogs, and the other with the paella. Now that I think about it, this seems an appropriate metaphor for what is happening to our country.

WLA

22 comments:

  1. Great story DM. Though I am partial to paella, yeah, it has to be turkey on Thanksgiving. Your wife sounds like a lady of strong opinions and strong passions. One bets that your life is anything but boring!

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    Replies
    1. Heh, no Pollo Asado for you my friend.

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    2. My wife reacts similarly to haggis. Don't know why...

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  2. Hamburgers. Serve hamburgers. Problem solved.

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    1. Only if they haven't been cooked on a grill touched by chicken . . . she is worse than an Orthodox Rabbi.

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    2. I have this sudden vision of your wife "talking shop" with the Sanhedrin...trying to one-up each other on fine points of dietary law. Theoretically, would she eat the precursor to chicken, dinosaur? ;-)

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    3. You have put a truly horrid vision in my head. I cannot forgive you.

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  3. A two grill family, One for fowl, one for cow.

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  4. Pity. My ex-DiploWife is from Taiwan, and the southern Chinese wrote the book on poultry, as far as I'm concerned (yes, a good Beijing Duck is OK, but I'm more partial to the fat-skinned Pi Pa Ya or the Taiwanese saltwater duck myself).

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  5. I agree with your wife on chicken but other feathered creatures are tasty (except for mud ducks).
    Remember there is always room for all G-d's creatures next to the potatoes and gravy.

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  6. Does the aversion to feathers extend to eggs?
    Burgers...and if your feeling evil that year, slide a Turkey-Burger in the mix.

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    Replies
    1. Eggs are exempted from her wrath. No explanation. Turkey burgers are forbidden.

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    2. Well, I guess that settles the age old question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg.
      Good luck on Thanksgiving.

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  7. Dear God, I would love to have some authentic paella. As far as I can tell no serious competition exists in America. Not, however, that I am prepared to sacrifice the finest meal of the year for this purpose. (and yes, I am willing to share my recipe for stuffing.)

    Also, for a good Spanish cook, the remains of the meal after everyone has consumed what they will, these remains being the unwanted bones and meat, will make finer soup and cooking stock than anything you can ever possibly buy. A must have for any serious cooking home.

    From one of your multitude of fans (on several orders of fifty) for many years.

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  8. 1. Run horses. The current stable is surrounded by Mennonite farms. My son grew up playing with the beef and dairy cattle on the adjacent farms. Based on objective knowledge of the situation, stated clearly and firmly from an early age that he had no intention of eating his friends.
    2. Had no problem eating chicken.
    3. Several of his teachers deposed him on this and were troubled that he felt chicken was an inferior species, fit for the table, while cattle were in another category.
    4. Am able to honor his position on this matter. A few times in my younger life, the fare was bologna sandwiches with no alternative but hunger.
    6. Agree that the paella/turkey divide is an accurate metaphor.
    7. The virtues of the one side are ignored or derided; the virtues of the other are not virtuous.

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  9. Dip, every time I read of your family’s escapades, I cannot help but laugh, as I have had MANY similar experiences. I have been married to my Sevillana wife for almost fifty years, but long ago gave up all attempts to understand the Spanish (female) psyche. How I would love to sit with you and trade Spanish (wife) stories. Please, do not stop them!
    John

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  10. One year our very liberal private school in SoCal decided to cancel the Thanksgiving celebration because they thought it was just a butterball turkey and canned cranberries, not worth anyone's time. I did some research on the holiday and discovered that it is celebrated differently in different regions of the US. For instance, in the Rio Grande valley the traditional food is fish. That is because the settlers of the region were near starved to death after their journey and when they came upon the Rio Grande they had fresh drinking water and a food supply.
    I presented my information to the admin of the school and suggested that they might want to educate the children about regional differences. No good. It turns out that the school had scheduled an entire week of "enrichment" during the week of Cinco de Mayo. No time for US cultural history, Mexican culture is much more important.

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  11. I would never survive dinner with the Diplowife: I love chicken and loathe seafood. Meanwhile, the story of your turkey hunt through Manhattan had me laughing so hard, a co-worker thought I had gone mental. She may be right. :)

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  12. A baseball sized roll of Pepperidge stuffing wrapped with a couple of thin pieces of sole/any white fish, baked in the oven and served with all the trimmings has been my Thanksgiving, xmas dinner staple for over 40 years. There are others just like your wife. We meet clandestinely and have a secret handshake. Our shopping carts act as tells. You have heard the joke endlessly I'm sure--there's a reason they call it fowl!

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    1. As I tell some of my Leftist friends, there's nothing like a brace of live-stewed liberated Lesbians served in a secret tunnel somewhere under Africa where the Liberty University staff holds its secret meetings with those of Qom, Iran--while the shade of R. Meir Kahane intones a Brokhes.

      And would you believe that I've met Leftists who thought I was for real when I told them the above?

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  13. Can we make it SEVEN regular readers? I R 1 Now.....

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