Everybody likes a Cuban Stuffing on Thanksgiving.

The longer the turkey’s in the oven the lower you’re gonna run on Gin. Ours was in for twelve hours and I was beyond elated. I was thankful.

The theme of the Sunday Thanksgiving before Thursday’s Thanksgiving was ‘Blow or Blow’. I still haven’t figured out the context. Soundtracks of Beach House and Lana Del Rey replaced the bantering and the cheering of the televised football games. The glass doors to the fire escape overlooking Saint Mark’s Place were left wide open and the crisp autumn air finally managed to settle along with us as we lavished with the dirtiest of martinis tasting of olive juice and lit ‘Thanksgiving’ scented candles that smelled just like the food we were cooking. We were outdoing ourselves. I was even wearing khaki pants. They make my ass look huge, it’s a really big deal.

Every year I struggle with what to make for a Thanksgiving feast. Granted, now that I’ve been on my own in College, I always settle on stuffing- it’s the greatest of the great; it goes anywhere and everywhere and continually redefines culinary promiscuity. It’s tantalizing cause you don’t know what the hell is in it half the time. Someone might say they know, they might give you some arbitrary statement, ‘there’s thyme in this’. F*** em’. They don’t know.

The Stuffing Struggle (There’s no acronym for this phenomenon, by the way) comes from having to choose between my father’s and my stepfather’s stuffing. My father’s falls somewhere in between ‘Stuffing’ and ‘Cuban Hodgepodge’ while my Stepfather’s recipe for Stuffing in muffin form calls for ‘an entire cylinder of sage. Just dump it in.’

Last year’s Thanksgiving resulted in about 40 of my Stepfather’s stuffing muffins left over. I’d made them for the first time by scratch, so I kept them in a giant black bowl in my mini fridge. When I came back to New York from visiting my Family for New Year’s Eve they were still in there. The sage had stained the paper towel lining the bottom of the bowl green. Sage Green. 

So this year, I decided to make my father’s recipe for stuffing.

I’m not going to say what it is.

Family secret.

But, one should probably be aware that the more chorizo you put in it, the better it’s gonna be, as is any dish once chorizo is added.

I asked my Pa to email me the recipe and he did. He even titled the recipe as his own, ‘Stuffing by Roberto V.’. Cubans, man. We got that pride where no chip can go.

The recipe continued to follow through sep by step, every step or so along the way accompanied with a little, tiny anecdote, such as ‘DO NOT DRAIN AT ANY TIME!’ or ‘I like to add some salt… but take it easy… Chorizo and ham already have plenty of salt.’

My pa would’ve said the exact same thing if I were at home, whether or not I was 22, 12, or 32. He would’ve cocked his head a bit and raise his eyebrows and do that thing that I do to those who know me the most. Sometimes it can be kinda sardonic. It’s the glorification and the pride of knowing that he’s done something first and now it’s up to him to show others the proper way to do it.

I’m the same way, I guess.

But with my pa in particular, yea, he likes having a specific way… but, I guess that’s because he thinks it’s also the best way? Maybe he’s assuming that it’s gonna be the best way to have the greatest success with anything. To ultimately enjoy what’s being done. To be in control of the fun people are having. Not to limit it… but rather, to be the cause of it.

I’m on duty at my dorm as an RA, and I’m cooking a Thanksgiving meal again for the entire dorm. Jim Beam to follow. Then on that Friday, the return of an old friend.

I don’t usually say ‘Grace’ at the dinner table for Thanksgiving. The last time I said it, I talked about the passing of time and the inevitable fate of all of us, that fate being just like the food on the table; to be consumed, and that we ought to find grace in that. Too much Dostoevsky or something.

This year’s grace was accompanied with a ton of red wine. We cheered and scratched our plates with our knives and everybody tried the stuffing and they loved it and thought the olives and the chorizo and the (blank) and the (blank) were phenomenal touches, albeit Cuban and Goya-fied.

I did the old man some good, I think. And even if there’s no room in the World to assume that the inevitable fate of all mankind is to end up like a turkey or a pot of Cuban stuffing, at least there’s an ounce of glory coming to realize that something about your father is sticking to you even when you’re 1,200 miles away.

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thoughts.

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