What I remember most about Thanksgiving when I was a kid is my mother’s stuffing. I would sit up with her late at night, Thanksgiving Eve, thinly chopping celery and dicing onions. (Onions didn’t make Young Megan cry.)
For this magic concoction, Mom used a special cauldron. She’d duck into the garage to hunt it down, bring it inside, and wash it in the sink. Only this pot could hope to contain her creation as it morphed and grew.
The sausage went on the fire…pop pop pop.
The onions were browned in butter…sizzle.
Then the celery.
And cubes of stale bread…chink chink chink.
Finally, some herbs.
All in the pot it went.
Then the tasting began. In dove the small spoon, quickly disappearing into Mom’s mouth. I could see her rolling the flavors around, deciding what she needed to add.
A dash of pepper here. A bit of salt there. Maybe some more celery?
The mixture grew in the pot as flavors were added and balanced, like a terrific-smelling abacus there on the stove. Finally, Mom would consult me. “Taste this. What do you think this needs?” Of course, I didn’t know. But I loved to taste, anyway.
Only when Mom was satisfied was the stuffing declared ready. What followed was twelve hours of torture in which I tried not to think of what awaited us in the refrigerator the next evening.
Years later, stuffing remains my favorite part of the meal. You can take my share of the turkey; just pass the stuffing.