The Cook's Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. ~E.P. Powell
Today, I am thankful to be the cook. Tomorrow, the others will find the feast set and will enjoy. But only I will experience the whole magical progression from ingredients - plain flesh, fruits of the garden still clinging to soil, and soft flour - to browned perfection, rich savor, and warm, crusty loaf.
I am thankful that I want to cook, that I have known the refuge of the kitchen from the daily fight. I am thankful that life has seen fit to teach me that it is not whether you have a gleaming steel kitchen or a mesquite fire on the ground but that it is very much that you enter into the task with the intent to delight. I am thankful that, for me, it is no chore.
But while I know it is not the value of the kitchen in silver that makes the difference, I am thankful that I have been able to create my kitchen space to be a joy in which to work. And today, the day before the crowd arrives, the turkey sits salted, skin nicely dried so that it will crisp in the oven, the tenderloin waits, trimmed and trussed, for its appointment with the charcoal rotisserie, and the yeasty dough rises, and in the dawn, I stand back and contemplate the opening notes of the kitchen symphony. And I reflect that this is my favorite moment, when I can really appreciate what I have - before plunging into the chopping, heating, and stirring.
And tomorrow, I will be especially thankful to have been the cook, because others will do the washing.
The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.
"Kitchen duty is awarded only to those of manifest excellence..." - The Master, Dogen