Five months of not eating out in New York is almost an anniversary. I should do something very elaborate next month to celebrate the half-year point, but for now, another meditation on why it’s so great to not eat out. This was supposed to be the Reason of the Month for December, but I’ve gotten a little behind myself.
For some time, the word “holiday” hasn’t had to refer to a day of religious observation. And they’re seldom celebrated in a very holy fashion. But I can’t seem to think of any holiday that would be better spent by going out to eat, with the possible exception of Valentine’s Day. What could be more blasphemous than a restaurant’s rendition of roast turkey on Thanksgiving, or potato latkes on Hannukah? Regardless of religion, what most major holidays have in common is the tradition of cooking at home, with family. I think of them as a time when everyone, whether or not they do the actual cooking, appreciate the art of home cooking.
Then again, my friend Erin complained the other day about how her traditional family gathering recipes were ones that she never liked in the first place. And still doesn’t, but they simply must serve them each year. She mentioned green bean casserole made from a can of cream of mushroom soup and frozen vegetables. Then as we were talking more about this, we came to the conclusion of, “well, the familiarity of the dishes will take you back in time and remind you of holidays of previous years, all those memories with your family.” Not such a bad result for a canned green bean casserole.
Fortunately, I can’t think of many required recipes that come with holiday meals that I can’t stand. But it’s comforting to know that even bad eating (like my Christmas chicken debacle) can be fun, memorable, and entirely forgivable. Would you ever forgive a restaurant for that?