The Best! So Perfect!

by Matt on October 17, 2006

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Let the superlatives begin.

Every year, without fail, the newstands and grocery racks are filled with the big food magazines’ take on America’s biggest food holiday–Thanksgiving. I’ll admit it, I do get that warm tingle inside when I think of sitting down to a table of great food that’s shared with friends and family, and yes, it’s a perfect opportunity to slow down and give thanks for so much that we have. I’m fine with that.

So what’s my problem?

It’s that perfect Thanksgiving.

Just like fashion glossies showcasing unattainable beauty, America’s editors seem to be fixated on achieving perfection during the month of November. They promise pages and pages of culinary perfection that will impress guests with your endless kitchen prowess if you only fork over $4.50 or so.

I mean, really–what gives? Will my guests speak poorly of me if I serve them imperfect mashed potatoes? Must I serve "show off dishes" when I’ve been in the kitchen since 6:30am and all I can honestly care about is making it through the day without running out of pinot noir and strangling myself?

Let me let you in on a little secret: there’s no such thing.

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Quit promising that this year you’ve discovered "5 perfect feasts" – if they were so good why didn’t you tell me about them last year? And if you’ve just discovered Thanksgiving’s "Five Best New Recipes" does that mean you won’t have an issue next year? If you claim "the absolute best method (it’s also the easiest)" does that mean you and your staff will show up on my doorstep and prepare it for me? Now that would be the easiest. You share tips and tricks on helping me achieve a "perfect piecrust", but what good will it be with my sad, imperfect filling? And lastly, you promise me, the reader, a "perfect thanksgiving", but does that include the recipe testers and stylists and art directors who helped make yours just so damn perfect, I ask?

Unless you’re our pal martha or a superhero, you’d find it just a wee bit difficult to create a perfect thanksgiving each and every year. It’s tedious, expensive, fraught with a comedy of endless errors and slight timing snafus. And guess what? That’s exactly how I like it. I don’t need my day to be perfect; I find it just dandy being imperfect. Because if it’s true what they say about life being lived in the details, I want memories that will make me laugh and smile, and not gloss over my Thanksgiving because it was, well, picture perfect and without flaw.

How boring.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Cookiecrumb October 17, 2006 at 5:08 pm

Ha ha ha ha! Fabulous. Dare I say — perfect!

Erielle October 17, 2006 at 7:10 pm

So funny!
I want to print out the magazine cover and take it to work so I can laugh every five minutes.

Meredith October 17, 2006 at 7:33 pm

Or you could just play it like my family does and make it pot luck style. It’s not all picture perfect but at least you didn’t spend a week in the kitchen. However, I was eyeing some of the best! mashed! potatoes! yet! recipes in B.A. this month.

Heather October 17, 2006 at 8:42 pm

Thanksgiving is just that…….giving thanks for the harvest not how pretty the food or table looks. Family traditions of roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes & whatever other vegetables on hand are where it’s at. So what if the potatoes have lumps! Just put more gravy on it! :)
Cheers!

angela October 18, 2006 at 7:24 am

That looks like a large spider (a tarantula) coming out behind that turkey wing in your picture Matt! hehehehe I love this cover.

Christine (myplateoryours) October 18, 2006 at 7:31 am

This totally cracked me up, Matt. I just finished doing a feature for our local city magazine on a winter holiday feast. I did all the food sourcing, cooking, food styling, food photography, table styling, etc. It was a disaster in every way. The high point was setting fire to my kitchen, and it was downhill from there. I ended up doing the article as a humor piece — it was laugh or cry.

“Just Perfect” indeed!

Kevin October 18, 2006 at 8:09 am

Oh my God! Just reading this made my heart race and palms sweat! Just the very THOUGHT of running out of pinot noir makes me woozy!!!

Matt, I do believe the world needs you to create your own epicurian magazine. Please? Where do we send contributions?

Lucy Vanel October 18, 2006 at 11:56 am

My thoughts exactly.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) October 18, 2006 at 12:55 pm

Brilliant! The big annual magazine confab is this weekend at the Biltmore in Phoenix–perhaps you should pitch this to Chuck Townsend at Conde Nast or Susan Lyne at MSLO. Looking at their wares I’m sure they’d love it!

Kirsten October 18, 2006 at 1:50 pm

Too true indeed. I’m so glad I got over all that perfect holiday sh*t and instead cook a few favorites and just 1 or 2 new things that don’t take too much time. I’d much rather spend the day relaxing with my family. Besides, as already mentioned gravy covers almost all imperfections ;)

Meryl October 18, 2006 at 6:41 pm

Your posts give me glee.

You dare to tell the truth… and for that you are my hero!

jules October 18, 2006 at 10:11 pm

you’re soo on the money…perfection is boring

Tana October 19, 2006 at 5:46 pm

I will say: my turkeys are picture perfect and have breasts moister than Pamela Anderson’s in her home video. But other things are less perfect.

My favorite Thanksgiving yet was when I served 22 people. A friend brought a flat of Brussels sprouts, and another woman and I and threw every single (uncooked, ghastly, horrid) one as far from my deck as we could. And that was after only two glasses of wine!

: D

Monkey Gland October 23, 2006 at 1:02 pm

I’m just glad we Brits have nothing to be thankful for.

Melissa October 25, 2006 at 8:12 am

Amen! In all honesty, though, I think I am exactly the target market for these magazines. It’s not so much the perfection I’m seeking but rather always something NEW… Even if all the recipes I cook one year are indeed perfect, my kind of culinary ADHD means that chances are none of them will ever show up on the holiday table again! ;)

Jack October 25, 2006 at 9:56 pm

One thing not perfect – the title!

It should have been:

Martha Stewart’s just perfect

Kimc October 25, 2006 at 10:51 pm

Every year Mom and I go through the magazines with Tday recipes, look at the wonderful photos and wonder what should we add or subtract from the menu this year. And every year we think, we do this once a year, we all love the menu we have every year. We always have lots of good food, lots of good friends, and it is always the imperfect perfect meal, full of mistakes, or forgotten “somethings”. By the time I cook my ONE dish — my mom cooks most of it (the brussels sprouts), I have usually had one too many wines and it makes it all more fun. So we just had that “what should we have this year” and we both laughed and said, “let’s have what we had last year” ;))))

Catherine October 31, 2006 at 8:39 pm

LOL! Love your mag! Marketing vs. real life? Its sad, but it really is hard to get away from it!

Elise November 18, 2006 at 7:13 pm

In my perfect Thanksgiving, the turkey wouldn’t be over cooked (attainable) and my brothers would actually pitch in FOR ONCE and do the dishes. Everything else is gravy…
:-)

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