Thanksgiving is a great occasion for learning new words. I don’t mean just food and holiday related words, but other words like vibe, corny etc. as well. I still remember my first Thanksgiving years ago when our most hospitable host made a joke about corn and used the word “corny” about something made of corn. I didn’t understand the joke, but I did look up “corny” later and was a little surprised to realize that the joke was more related with corn than the real meaning of corny.
early dinner: On Thanksgiving day, the dinner is early, starting between 2 and 4PM. I had thought that this is the only occasion for early dinner until I watched a Seinfeld episode–I think it is called “The Cadillac”–in which Seinfeld’s parents go to dinner at 4PM in a retirement community in Florida.
turkey: Roasting a turkey doesn’t look like a difficult task, but it is very difficult to do–looks can be deceiving. So many things can go wrong. The thawing, the pre-oven procedures, the stuffing, the basting, the timing, the temperature. Just when you think what can possibly go wrong, something goes wrong and the turkey turns out to be dry and flavorless.
baste: pour juices or melted fat over (meat) during cooking in order to keep it moist. Turkey has to be wrapped in aluminum foil to be roasted for hours while as often as possible it should be basted in its own juice.
gravy: a sauce made from cooked meat juices together with stock and other ingredients. And the utensil that serves the gravy is called gravy boat rather than gravy bowl.
gourd: I’ve never seen this word being used, but pumpkin, squash, zucchini, calabash all gourd like food. Zucchini spaghetti makes very healthy and tasty side dishes for Thanksgiving.
corny: (informal) trite, banal, or mawkishly sentimental. Like what I said above, I first learned this word in a Thanksgiving dinner. After that, I heard it mentioned when a girl told me that a poet I admired writes very “corny” poems. I was so shocked but for politeness sake, I didn’t express my dismay. She’s an Asian American who grew up in New Jersey and I think she couldn’t grasp the beauty of a translated poem–the translation is so bad that when I later read the poet’s work in English, I almost laughed.
stuffing: a mixture used to stuff poultry or meat before cooking. The stuffing is always tasty and juicy even if the the roast turkey is a failure. I’ve been to several dinners with turkey failure and I know. It’s so much safer to just cook a chicken or a duck.
crouton: a small piece of fried or toasted bread served with soup or used as a garnish. And I remembered this word the first time I ate a serving of stuffing. Crouton is the main ingredient in the stuffing and it is so delicious that the word just etched in my memory the first time I encountered it.
cranberry: a small red acid berry used in cooking. Cranberry sauce is like your familiar sweet and sour sauce. And it only shows up during Thanksgiving and it only pairs with turkey. For the rest of the year, cranberry is made into cranberry drink and it’s very popular since it is the natural way to fight urinary tract infection. I told one of my friends about this when he was diagnosed with urinary tract infection, but he would not believe me. He has to go talk with his doctor and receive his doctor’s sanction before he would try cranberry juice. His doctor is somebody who believes that one should exercise as intensely as possible and eat as much junk food as possible since modern medicine can save one if one’s body is damaged. Hmm, I don’t think I agree with her.
pumpkin pie and apple pie: This is the dessert for Thanksgiving dinner.
Macy’s parade: This is on TV each year on the morning of Thanksgiving day.
Thanksgiving football game: There will always been Thanksgiving football game. This is American football, not the soccer game people outside of America usually rave about.
Christmas Lights and Christmas Tree: After Thanksgiving, Christmas lights and Christmas tree come up. We don’t do Christmas lights ourselves–it costs electricity and it’s a fire hazard. That’s our excuse. However we love it and we just drive to other townships to admire the best Christmas lights. I even know those houses that usually have the best lights. It is said there are people who decorate their house like a palace and then sell tickets to invite people in.
pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon: Now I am quite comfortable with these flavors in dessert and drinks and oatmeal etc. At first, I couldn’t take it but after several Thanksgivings, one’s taste buds get used to it.
leftover: something, especially food, remaining after the rest has been used or consumed. After Thanksgiving, there’s a week in which people have to eat the leftover in the form of turkey sandwich, turkey soup etc.
gobble: a. eat (something) hurriedly and noisily.”one man gobbled up a burger”. b. The gobble is a loud, rapid gurgling sound made by male turkeys.
dysfunction: abnormality or impairment in the function of a specified bodily organ or system. Thanksgiving is the time that all families get together, including dysfunctional families. And tensions can flair up even if people are in a festive mood. I know several stories about Thanksgiving day goes wild and I am going to write in another post about it.
bake-off: a contest in which cooks prepare baked goods such as bread and cakes for judging.
vibe: a person’s emotional state or the atmosphere of a place as communicated to and felt by others. “A lot of moody people giving off bad vibes”. This word is used very often. At first I thought this word is about vibration, but google told me otherwise. I’ve always wanted to use this word, but so far I haven’t been able to. I wonder why.
turkey pardoning: During the Presidency of George H. W. Bush, it became a tradition (since carried on by all of Bush’s successors) for the president to issue a ceremonial “pardon” to the turkey.
Commonly Used Phrases
be stuffed like a turkey: Engorged from overeating.
cold turkey: (North America) in a sudden and abrupt manner. “many banks have cut commercial builders off cold turkey”
wild goose chase: a foolish and hopeless pursuit of something unattainable.
count your blessings: to make a special effort to appreciate the good things in one’s life I try to remember to count my blessings every day.
mixed blessing: a situation or thing that has disadvantages as well as advantages. “having children so early in their marriage was a mixed blessing”
blessing in disguise: an apparent misfortune that eventually has good results.
couch potato: a person who spends little or no time exercising and a great deal of time watching television.
hot potato: (informal) a controversial issue or situation that is awkward or unpleasant to deal with.
gravy train: (informal) used to refer to a situation in which someone can make a lot of money for very little effort.”come to Hollywood and get on the gravy train”