Stuffing -- Food of the Gods
(Editors' note: Look, we warned you last week that we opened the door to poetry from City of Ate staffers who wanted to praise their Thanksgiving faves. So, here goes: a bit of blank verse -- that's a technical term for prose with funny line breaks -- from Merritt Martin in praise of stuffing followed by José Ralat Maldonado's essay on the virtues of Stovetop Stuffing and family togetherness. Eat up.)
If you think this picture is revolting, try searching the Interent for "stuffing." (Someday we'll remember to turn on that safe search. Someday.)
Like a broth-drenched bread salad, you are mine.
With your holiday spice and avian bits you fill up my gullet and my soul.
On occasion you contain a honeyed nut, a bit of sweet tuber or a crump of fruit,
But always, your bite is savory.
Stuffing, are you there? Is it Thursday? Are you warmed
through and through with your crisp, brown edges
and soft mid-pan area?
I will first dowse some of you in the bird sauce,
then leave some of you unsullied,
and, if it is meant to be,
pile the rest of you on bread with cran-can and meat shreds.
Side dish perfection in three rounds.
I curse the Stove Top, unless there is nothing more to be had,
in your stead.
Damn the man who steals the penultimate spoonful,
O, but that the final scoop is
-- Merritt Martin
I Love Stove Top Stuffing Because it Makes My Sister Sick
The aroma wafting from the microwave was enough to make my sister dry heave, right hand covering her mouth, her cheeks slightly puffed. The aroma and my sister's reaction to it was enough to make me smile and snicker the smile and snicker of an older brother experiencing glee from the discomfort of his little sister. Mushy and with the color of dog mess, Stove Top stuffing was the best!
There was little else to enjoy about Thanksgiving in the Ralat household. The house was crowded with Puerto Ricans who begrudgingly consumed turkey over their preferred pernil, that hallmark of festivity -- at least there was arroz con gandules -- while participating in their favorite pastime: screaming about politics. There was no baseball. There was only football. There was mofongo, plantain stuffing, but my mother indulged my request for that processed ick Stove Top without question. For that I was thankful year after year. Watching my sister eventually dash to the bathroom at the beginning of our Thanksgiving meal was cool. A few polite bites of the stuffing that made a suctioning noise when released from the serving spoon followed. I wasn't about to fill up on that crud when there was homemade stuffing on the table.
I no longer consume Stove Top -- don't even go down the grocery aisle where it's shelved -- opting instead to make my own stuffing, but every November I reflect on the cruelty I inflected on my sister and smile and snicker. -- José Ralat Maldonado