Thanksgiving, my father, and fish muddle

Published 7:22 pm Thursday, November 18, 2010

It’s almost that time, Suffolkians. Our plates are about to be stacked with all the Thanksgiving treats we can stand. My game plan for the big meal is still in the planning phase, which is to say I haven’t actually done anything yet. However, I’ve been so hung up on the food I’m preparing that I’ve forgotten about another aspect of the holidays that are sort of the forgotten delight of the season: the family. (I tend to get a little blinded by all the food sometimes.)

With that being said, I feel it necessary to share a little bit about my father. It seems like I share so much about my relationship with my mother that I rarely mention the guy who has come to influence a great deal of who I am in the kitchen.

I describe my dad as a chef trapped in a diesel mechanic’s body. He loves to cook. He loves to eat. And, like me, he appreciates Thanksgiving on the same level I do. And, unsurprisingly, also like me, he has Type 2 diabetes.

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While in the Army, though, my father was a cook in Vietnam. He did the cooking for his platoon. So, while others learned to cook French, Italian, or Chinese cuisine, my father learned how to cook in a fashion that I call “military grub-style.” Military grub-style cooking, by my definition, only has two qualifying factors. It has to be good. And there has to be at least a metric ton of it sprawled across the dining room table. So, needless to say, sitting at my dad’s dinner table is a lot like being at Disney World for me.

Visiting with my dad during holidays is, however, a bit of a challenge with our busy schedules. But, this year, my dad has sweetened the pot of incentive for me to make at least a short visit this weekend. He is bringing a few tubs of an elusive treat with him from Maryland down to my aunt’s house in Franklin. And I know only a small handful of people will know what this stuff is, but I will share it with you anyway. It’s fish muddle. That’s right, it’s like a spicy fish pate/stew sort of concoction that is simply unbelievable. But, here’s the catch. I can only get the goods if I make at least a short appearance at the family function this weekend. And for fish muddle, it is worth getting up at any hour to visit with the family for a spell.

Be sure to appreciate time with all your family members this holiday season. They’re probably going to be carrying food when you see them. And isn’t that even more of a reason to love them? Happy Thanksgiving.