The women in my family have always been competitive when it comes to cooking, especially when it’s holiday season. I can’t even remember a time when they weren’t all teasing each other way before November. Come to think of it, they’re competitive all year round – but especially when Thanksgiving approaches.
This year, my Uncle decided to throw his hat in the ring, even though my Aunt admonished him for being the only male to do so. What compelled him was the death of his beloved German Shepherd early in the Fall. Champ was everything to Uncle John, so when he moped around deep in grief, my Aunt had an idea.
She wanted him to help her in the kitchen and it wasn’t long before he started getting excited. It was exactly the medicine he needed. He was soon offering to cook their evening meals and Aunt Sophie was happy to have a break. One of his dishes was so delicious, she talked him into making it for Thanksgiving.
We all teased him mercilessly about being the only thorn among the roses, but he laughed it off. When they turned up at Grandma’s house it was so much fun to watch him prancing around the kitchen with an apron on. My mother was the only one who seemed a little put out.
Dad and I pulled her aside, thinking that she was miffed about having someone else to compete against – especially seeing as he was male. Mom is very old fashioned and strange in her assumption that men shouldn’t cook, even though the majority of great chefs in the world are men.
She assured us that her sexist belief had nothing to do with her annoyance. She confided that she was worried about John and his odd behavior. She said that there was something unnerving about how over the top he was, seeing as he was usually so sedate and laid back. We put it down to how he was dealing with his grief.
The smells coming out of Grandma’s kitchen were drool-worthy. Seeing as Grandma is getting older, she’s happy to have her family use her kitchen around the holidays. My mother’s Apricot Chicken, Aunt Sophie’s Sage and Onion stuffed Turkey and my other Aunt’s beautiful dishes put us in a state of bliss.
When Uncle John placed his Beef Bourguignon on the table we all gasped. Dad was so impressed that he had mastered such a fancy dish and when I took a bite I thought I’d gone to heaven. It was rich, savory and melt in your mouth delicious. We were so enamored with the casserole that we polished it off before everything else.
After dinner we all did our usual voting, by writing the dishes on a piece of paper and placing them in our Grandpa’s old fedora hat. Grandma did the honors and counted the entries. Uncle John won by a landslide. We all cheered and laughed at the irony, until Uncle John nearly fell over while laughing maniacally.
Mom was freaked out and yelled at him, asking why he was being such an idiot. I realized that she was onto something when he started barking like a dog while slathering like a madman. We all froze when he stood up and yelled, “Woof Woof. Champ wins again! Great till the last bite. You wonder why I didn’t want him cremated!”
We all looked at each other in horror. Uncle John had fed us his own dead dog. My Aunt was crying as she called the cops – knowing that he needed to be treated by professionals. After vomiting, I watched as he was taken away, screaming and laughing in an ambulance. I’ll never eat dark meat again.