What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.
Social gatherings! 2010 had a few. (I’d like 2011 to have a few more. Roll on the Dinner Parties for Strangers!) Anyway, the one that rocked my socks off would have to be the Canadian Thanksgiving Extravaganza at Ally’s house. Said extravaganza included much hilarity, many wonderful friends (including Welsh Rhi and Jersey Jess, not to mention Ally Prockford!), and even had a cameo from an English gentleman who happened to look rather like Edward Norton.
The food was spectacular, as per usual. Ms. Prockford is a student at the University of Edinburgh and also a student of all things culinary. However, being poor, she has gleefully adopted the starving student persona, and likes to exercise her fiscal creativity in conjunction with her culinary prowess. With Prockford, it’s all about ghetto cooking, student-style. (Or is it student cooking, ghetto-style? I can’t quite remember …) Anyway, food times at Prockford’s are always exciting. There was pumpkin pie. There was spice cake. There was turkey, courtesy of moi. There was fantabulous stuffing, courtesy of Prockford, and not-so-fantabulous stuffing, courtesy of moi yet again. There was ridiculously good salsa, which was (un)fortunately brought in at a later point in the evening and therefore not demolished as quickly as its chef had hoped it would be. (Good news: so much salsa for me.) There were green beans. There were brussel sprouts. (Yeah. I like brussel sprouts. I went there.) There were AMAZING mashed potatoes. There was mediocre gravy. I am still sorry that the gravy was so un-spectacular — I did not, at the time, quite yet possess my mother’s finesse with that particular item of food. In the end, though — small potatoes. (Har har.) There was much food, mediocre or not, to be thankful for. It was glorious.
Anyway, I was there until the wee hours of the morn. The talk took a moral turn circa 1am, when someone — I can’t remember who — decided that it would be good for everyone to relate their respective worst deeds. I had to scramble for something to say, and finally settled on mentioning the fact that I’d smoked pot, once upon a time. I was rather embarrassed (in a good way, I suppose), but that gradually went away as we discovered that the bad deeds of everyone else were pretty much all to the same standard.
And THEN, the Edward Norton lookalike said, “Well, I tried to burn down a building, once.”
“Oh really?” we said. “Do tell.”
“I was with a bunch of my friends,” he said. “We were — I don’t know — 17? 18? Anyway, one day we got it into our heads that it would be a good idea to burn down a community centre.”
Yeah. Not just any building — a community centre. Community. Centre.
I don’t know about you, but that kind of threw a spanner in the works. Seems to me that introduces an entirely different kind of spectrum in the “badness” debate. Smoking pot — I’d argue, diehard Canadian that I am, that that’s bad insofar as it’s illegal. But, uh, when stacked up against arson? Not so bad, really. Not so bad at all.
Anyway, the evening wound down soon after that. (The attempted arson and corresponding fire was quickly extinguished thanks to Edward Norton’s friendly neighbourhood fire department, a most reassuring end to the story.) Once we hit 2:30am, I ceased to be able to carry an articulate conversation. Jersey Jess and I hung around until 3, and then bussed it back to my little Edinburgh studio (moment of silence for the Holly Golightly house … sigh). Thus endeth the Thanksgiving Extravaganza. It was good times.
I hope — I very, very much hope — that 2011 will hold many more parties, and a great deal of joy.
Side note: I discovered my mother’s secret to great gravy this past Christmas. It is nothing less than using every ounce of turkey fat which the turkey doth possess. Cook the turkey, then pour the drippings into a separate pot and let them sit until the fat rises to the top. Pour off the fat and mix it with flour (none of this flour-and-water-paste business, you hear?) and pour the paste back into the drippings. Whisk it all together until the paste dissolves, then return the mixture to the burner and let it simmer for ten minutes. Et voilà. Bad for the arteries — so, so, SO very good for the soul …
PS. In the mood for a cautionary tale? Read this …