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  • Damaris Chanza

Behind the Scenes of Yesterday's Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and leftovers have overrun the refrigerator.

The only thing more overwhelming than celebrating the holidays with family is having to cook enough food to feed everyone. This stress is only heightened when you have to work the day before and after and drive your thanksgiving contribution an hour away, unsure of how many people will even be there. This is exactly what my boyfriend and I had to deal with this Thanksgiving.

George and I planned on spending Thanksgiving with his family, who live an hour away from us. After discovering we each had to work the day before and after, we were explicitly told to forget making any food. However, we felt that was not in the spirit of the holiday and did not want to show up empty-handed.

We decided I would make a carrot cake, and he made stuffed potatoes which we call papas rellenas, two things neither of us had ever made before. We didn't have enough time to shop too far in advance, so we had to endure the Thanksgiving ShopRite chaos. We were met with shopping cart traffic and a shortage of nutmeg that forced us to buy something other than the discount brand, something that I'm still a little bitter about today. But we persevered and made it through the produce jungle.

At around 6 pm the night before, after the two of us had worked entire shifts, we ordered Chipotle through Uber Eats and started to get to work on making our dishes. We love a good mise en place, but our tiny kitchen and limited counter space made that almost impossible. We had to put our microwave on the floor to make enough space for him to shred some carrots while I peeled an entire bag of potatoes.

Some highlights of our 4-hour cooking marathon include continuously forgetting we moved the trash can, the smell of bell peppers creeping into my nose forcing me to constantly fight sneezes, George burning his hand because he was too impatient to wait for the meat and potatoes to cool down, and mashed potatoes flying everywhere when my hand mixer slipped.

The cake cooked quickly and smelled delicious, but it took forever to cool off enough to frost. The potatoes took forever to cool down enough to mold into the balls. Despite our hunger and exhaustion, we couldn't eat anything we made. To make things worse, the oven made the kitchen so hot we might as well have been in it.

Realizing the time and that we had to clean up afterward, we decided that our hands would acclimate to the food's heat and started forming the balls. Despite being concerned about having a meat shortage, we had a potato shortage and had to skim off each ball to reach our goal of 30.

My sheer satisfaction from seeing the cakes come out of the pans so cleanly gave us the energy boost we needed to clean up. However, that quickly dwindled once the cake was frosted. Stirring up all our might, George washed the dishes while I cleaned the kitchen and organized the refrigerator to fit everything. Eventually, we finally had the luxury of going to bed.

We may have received the wrong chipotle order, eaten food we didn't want while making food we did, and had very little sleep, but it was all worth it when our food survived the drive to his parent's house. George took advantage of the unusually lovely weather and fried the papas rellenas outside. We spent the entire day with his family and had a fantastic time. Everyone loved my cake, and the papas rellenas were a hit. It may have been hilariously stressful, but we wouldn't change a thing. Well, we might have chosen to take the day off, but that's next year's problem.

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