Wednesday, January 6, 2010

family dinners

Many of you have just experienced these festive occasions, so I believe the time is ripe to discuss some of their finer points. To be clear, I'm not talking about your typical family dinner; I'm referencing the big occasions where your extended family gets together and you try and avoid that one awkward cousin.1

I'm an expert in family dinners, having participated actively2 in them for many, many years. Of course, my entire repertoire of experience in these matters comes from a single family (my mom's side, the Kelly family) but I'm just going to make the supremely logical assumption that everyone is exactly like me, and every family exactly like mine.3

The Kellys are of Irish heritage, and like all people of Irish descent, have no idea what Ireland is like beyond being the land of leprechauns. Lack of cultural heritage aside, the Kellys do a great job of creation on the culinary front, which culminates in single meals that would provide the population of Burkina Faso its yearly sugar, starch, and meat dietary requirements.

Family dinners begin with a salad. Of course, the definition of salad is a little broader than your standard fare. I think I was seventeen before I saw a salad composed of lettuce, and this at a friend's house. Salads can be anything from pure jello, to pear-infused green jello, to orange jello with apples and marshmallows topped with a three-inch thick layer of whipped cream, to a whipped cream soup with pieces of apples, bananas, and marshmallows. In short, salads are deliciously sugary affairs.

Vegetables also play very important roles in family dinners. Vegetables like potatoes (mixed with cream and butter and cheese). Or sugar-glazed sweet potatoes. Every so often you'll get a boiled carrot coated in caramelized brown sugar. In a pinch, you could serve any vegetable, I suppose, as long as it came from a can. The last time a fresh vegetable made an entrance into the Kelly family dinner it was promptly shouted out amid protests.4

The centerpiece of the main course is always some form of meat. Sometimes this meat is accompanied with seas of gravy, sometimes it comes with food-poison-inducing stuffing5, but it always makes an appearance. This may be a problem in some regions, given dietary preferences and the likes, but here the term vegetarian refers to people who don't eat red meat, except on rare occasions like holidays and other days people hold family dinners. If ever a vegan attends a family dinner, there may be an awkward moment while someone tries to rustle up some water that wasn't shot and killed for dinner, but luckily, any vegan coming within fifty miles of our home will starve. Why else would you never hear about vegans living in flyover country? There's just no sustenance.

All of this food builds up to the true purpose of the family dinner: dessert. The last family dinner had no fewer than thirteen different kinds of said sugary goodness. For example, I am now sitting within twenty feet of banana split pie, cookies, a pan of brownies, chocolate from Germany, the UK, and local chocolatier, as well as Sees chocolate, chocolate pecan pie, and ice cream, having finished off the pumpkin bread, Boston cream pie, banana cream pie, and cream pie some days previous.

My family has a history of type 2 diabetes and heart problems.

On that note, I will see you in the gym. I'll be the one with the ill-fitting clothes trying to roll through the door.

1. Or, should you be blessed with somewhere in the neighborhood (I've never actually been able to count them) of forty eight cousins, maybe a dozen or so awkward ones. Actually, let's be serious: if you have that many cousins, you're all awkward.
2. And by "participated actively" I mean "ate as much as possible, then lay on some hidden couch in a catatonic state, avoiding doing anything that could be classified as 'washing dishes'".
3. In that vein, I'd like to apologize for the divorce your parents went through, and I'd like to discuss with you why exactly the word goose was banned in your household for several years in your youth.6
4. Legend has it this was in the year 1242, when it was technically the O'Calleigh family.
5. I have yet to forgive said cook of said stuffing. I stopped vomiting hours before my flight out of town.
6. This was, of course, the motivation behind such constructs as 'gooth', and 'silly gooth'.


Layne said...

But Chris! What about the Kellys' Irish tempers?

Lucy said...

I love desserts! That's my favorite part of Kelly gatherings.

Nettie said...

My favorite was the paragraph on the salads, as each of those are found at every Kelly function and are highly delicious.

chris said...

ahhh, layne, how right you are! I meant to add in a shout-out to that effect, and neglected to do it (though I did manage to make one lousy typo).

MommaMcCarthy said...

Only one awkward cousin? That must be so nice for you.