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Connections: Party Planning

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 11:37

I spent a sleepless night earlier this week trying to remember where I’d left a certain bright-purple file folder that I used to drag out every November, as party season approached. It was our party-planning folder, containing guests’ names and menus from celebrations in years gone by. In the morning, rather to my surprise, I actually managed to find said folder, in a bundle in a box among other folders containing favorite recipes.

It is hard to remember why I felt the need to collect and keep all this information — what did I imagine I’d be doing with it decades later? — but it does provide me with a rather complete picture of Thanksgivings from 1983 to 1995.

What a party we used to throw! The contents of the purple folder are both uplifting and rather staggering: We used to serve Thanksgiving to as many as 30 people. Those were epic meals, involving not just turkeys and the occasional goose but Hatfield hams, roast oysters and scalloped oysters, smoked bluefish and pâté de campagne, pumpkin pies and pumpkin mousses. . . . After the meal, guests would gather in the living room and sing and bang on the piano — and on cooking pots — and generally just make a lot of noise. (Whether or not the chaos of the music-making had anything to do with the cases of wine delivered the day before Thanksgiving I am not saying.)

The purple folder also details menus and organizational plans from Christmas Eve and assorted other big days. According to my notes, 42 people (!) attended a celebratory brunch after Chris and I were married in 1995. I am sorry to say I barely remember a few people on the list, that a number of couples have separated, and, yes, sadly, a few are no longer with us.

This year, Chris and I are not hosting, but are traveling to Massachusetts, to a town outside Boston, to be the guests of his son and daughter-in-law. We are not cooking,  except for one culinary contribution — a dish I treasure that appears with regularity in the purple folder: Oysters Rattray, a variation on Oysters Rockefeller that was was a feature in Rattray Thanksgivings and Christmases going back to the 1970s. It involves Pernod, butter, and lot of sorrel, which has become hard to find in stores (usually requiring a pilgrimage to the Green Thumb in Water Mill). say I barely remember a few people on the list, that a number of couples have separated, and, yes, sadly, a few are no longer with us.

This year, Chris and I are not hosting, but are traveling to Massachusetts, to a town outside Boston, to be the guests of his son and daughter-in-law. We are not cooking,  except for one culinary contribution — a dish I treasure that appears with regularity in the purple folder: Oysters Rattray, a variation on Oysters Rockefeller that was was a feature in Rattray Thanksgivings and Christmases going back to the 1970s. It involves Pernod, butter, and lot of sorrel, which has become hard to find in stores (usually requiring a pilgrimage to the Green Thumb in Water Mill).

It will be a quieter Thanksgiving than those of decades past, but maybe we will convince the Boston family to join us for some (perhaps less boozy) singing after dinner.


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