A Towne Thanksgiving
To enjoy a Towne thanksgiving, you must first invite the Northern Irish cousins to come across the pond from Belfast. They aren’t really cousins, and how exactly they are related to you involves long conversation and diagrams over many glasses of Chardonnay. Regardless, they’ll arrive home the same weekend you arrive home from college, and the small house you live in will be bursting at the seams with people, food, and Powers Irish Whiskey.
Next, you’ll need five solid days of shopping, running around to visit aunts and cousins, appointments, and meals out. By the time Thanksgiving morning comes around, the whole family will be exhausted.
Cooking will begin in the morning, before you wake up. Mom will be awake, preparing the kitchen, organizing her list, drinking coffee, and digging around in the cupboards for her grandmother’s pots and pans. While her second cup of coffee, complete with a pink lipstick ring around the rim, gets cold on the counter, she will pull the turkey out of the refrigerator to finish thawing and be rinsed.
Mom always names the turkey Fred, which is especially funny when your Irish cousin is called Mags and her husband is Fred. So, while human Fred goes off with a great uncle to hear hunting stories at the bar, Fred the bird receives the star treatment. After rinses, Mom will slather him with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and stuff Fred with dressing she made earlier on in the morning. In an hour or two, after the first few bastings have occurred, it will be your time to shine. Appetizers are set to go out around 2 o’clock, the stars of which are Crabbies.
Who exactly created the recipe for these starters is unknown. Your crazy aunt will have given the recipe to Mom some ten years ago, and the recipe card is marked with grease and cranberry wine. You will pull that same card out, rummage through the cupboards for the few ingredients necessary to bring the dish to life, and get to work.
The recipe is very simple. You will combine, in a medium-sized bowl, a jar of Old English cheese spread (which is purchased on sale throughout the year and stored in the back of the pantry), a stick of room temperature butter, one and a half teaspoons of mayonnaise, half a teaspoon of seasoned salt, and a can of lump crab meat.
Once stirred together, the mixture is spread onto English muffin halves, which are then arranged on a sheet tray and broiled, just for a few minutes, until the edges have turned golden brown and the whole kitchen smells of crab and cheese.
You will become very popular as you slide a large kitchen knife across the muffin halves, forming small triangle-shaped appetizers. Most of them will not make it to the serving platter, for Mom and Dad and Mags will wander in at that precise moment, as if by accident, and pop a few into their mouths. Mom, in her excitement, will even burn her tongue.
Once you do bring them out into the living room, where Dad and human Fred have assembled to watch the football game, and your brother has stationed himself to poke fun at the football game, you will be applauded. The dish will be passed around, and almost as soon as they came out of the oven, the Crabbies will have been devoured.
Each year as you sit down to enjoy the incredible spread of food that Mom, Mags, and you have prepared, there will inevitably be several comments along the line of “I shouldn’t have eaten so many Crabbies! I just couldn’t stop! They’re so lovely.” You will smile to yourself as you pass along the mashed potatoes and green beans, knowing that though the day is about turkey, it is the Crabbies that people think of first when they think of a Towne thanksgiving.