About a week ago, the New York Times published a cute feature called “The United States of Thanksgiving,” which profiled a signature dish for the Thanksgiving table from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
My elementary school’s cafeteria was a reliable source of embarrassment for me. It was the “lunch room.” I didn’t know the word “cafeteria” yet. It was also the school’s gym, which doubled its the power to humiliate. But we’ll save all of that for another time.
The short answer is, the Jimmy John’s No. 6 vegetarian sub may very well have saved my life.
On the evening of Sept. 23, 1997, I put myself in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. That is to say, an ambulance and some paramedics put me in the hospital, but I’m the one who started it.
It looks kinda like this, except they dont do sprouts anymore. (Courtesy of JimmyJohns.com
It was my 21st birthday. My job laying out the student newspaper held me up, and I was late meeting my friends at the bar to celebrate. Time before last call was short, so I drank something like four beers and nine shots in less than an hour.
I remember this much before waking up on a gurney as I was wheeled into Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Mich.
Thinking: Should I do those last two shots?
Thinking: Hell yes.
Stumbling home on the shoulders of two of my roommates. I didn’t so much walk as allow myself to be propelled forward by gravity and their patience.
Rolling off the living room couch into pure darkness to hit the floor, clutch my gut, and commence vomiting.
Yesterday at work we said goodbye to the Latte Lounge.
Our office was testing it out this week. Friday was its last day with us, and I can already feel that it’s made a change all our lives.
The Latte Lounge is a remarkable little machine. Actually, it’s enormous. It must outweigh our old coffee maker 10 to 1. It stood in an underused part of the first floor like a robotic guard watching over the adjacent vending machines.
The importance of fixing our oven lay not just in the Thanksgiving dinner we had to host, but also in the unbaked DiGiorno pepperoni pizza and the box of Mrs. T’s jumbo fish sticks in the freezer just waiting to be consumed.
During a visit in the spring, my mom treated me and Jeff and a couple of our friends to some serious Polish-lady cooking: golabki, chicken stew and biscuits. The huge baking dish full of stuffed cabbage boiled over. We had a baking sheet on the lower rack, but it wasn’t placed well, and tomato soup spilled right on through to the gas valve and shorted out the electronic controls. If you’re going to go out, go with a bang, I guess—and a sizzle and a pop.
The official start of Thanksgiving every year was not picking up the turkey and Libby’s pumpkin pie filling and canned cranberry sauce from Farmer Jack’s (as we called it back home). It was not the raucous bus ride home from school on Wednesday, the freedom of a four-day weekend spread out before us like a feast. It wasn’t even the America’s Thanksgiving Parade broadcast from downtown Detroit.
The official start of Thanksgiving was always the aroma of celery and onions sautéing in butter as my dad started cooking the stuffing for the turkey. It was better than an alarm clock or a nudge to the shoulder to draw me, groggy and pajamaed and rubbing my eyes, from my bedroom.
A lot of recipes start out that way, sautéing onions, celery, some herbs. But no matter what we’re making, no matter the time of year it is, that scent — heavy, sweet and ambrosial — always means Thanksgiving.