Julie and Marco stood outside the apartment door. Julie was afraid to knock. Marco was not.
It was Thanksgiving and they were not at home. They were in London. It had been a hasty move, when Marco got the call, and they’d packed up their little house in Wisconsin and boarded a plane for England in the spring. Marco left behind a family. Julie did not.
She gripped his hand and held onto the foil-wrapped plate, teetered on her heels. The apartment, the flat, was on the second floor of a row house in a neighborhood Julie had never seen. “Is this weird? What if this is weird?”
Marco shrugged. “If it’s weird, it’s weird.” He smiled and gave her hand a squeeze. He was much easier about things, about people. Over the years they’d been together, he’d grown calmer and her more nervous. She hated it. She hated that this was her role, to worry, and it was his to soothe.
When he reached out a hand to knock, she pulled him back a step. The hall was dimly lit and she could vaguely hear sounds from inside, the sounds of Marco’s coworker and his wife, a few of their friends. Some were from England, some from America, one man and his partner from Canada, the coworker had said. “You and Julie should come too,” he’d insisted. “It’ll be grand. Bring Brussels sprouts, would you?”
“What if there isn’t a turkey?” Julie whispered to Marcos and he looked at her. It was the first thing to come into her head.
She wasn’t sure what had come over her, to be honest. Thanksgiving had never a mainstay of her life. Throughout the years, she floated through the holiday, a few relatives here, a friend’s parents’ there. Until Marco. Once there was Marco, there was a home for Thanksgiving, with his parents, and sisters and his brother and grandfather and bachelor uncles, his nieces, loudness and crashing pots and the smell of turnips and mulled cider and these strange empanada-like things that Julie couldn’t stop eating. She looked at him, unable to tell him how much she missed his family, how much she wanted to see them on the other side of the door, to be swallowed whole by his mother’s arms, the wide smile on his sisters’ faces, the way they would tease.
Marco grinned. “It’ll be fine.” He knocked on the door with his free hand.
The theme for this post is “unexpected.” That’s the theme for this week too.
It was supposed to be pumpkin pie, the post. Instead, it’s Brussels sprouts. And Brussels sprouts with a left-turn of a sauce, no less.
Among other things that were unexpected- the fact that I’m writing this at 10pm on a Friday night, writing about delicious roasted vegetables while my apartment smells like a cupcake factory and too many sneaks of batter are sinking in my belly. I went a little overboard with them, the cupcakes. Remember that scene in Harry Potter when they’re in the vault and everything they touch explodes and multiplies? That’s how I feel about cupcakes in my house right now. What the- what- how- wasn’t there just supposed to be- how many did I MAKE?
There’s also the fact that there’s a car parked outside my house that I am driving that is not my car. My car’s rear window had an unexpected collision, while parked and unattended mind you, with a lawn care company’s truck on Tuesday morning. There are still tiny shards of glass on the street.
And that doesn’t scratch the surface of the strangeness that was work this week. Up, down, up, down. Yesterday I ended up on the floor in the bathroom with my head at my knees.
So yeah, when Nicole said, “Something happened with the pie…” I rolled with it. Yes, of course. Brussels sprouts.
The SKS Thanksgiving recipe collection
Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows | Butternut Squash Soup | Sugar and Spice Cocktail Nuts | No Knead Dinner Rolls | Apple Crumb Pie | Mad Easy Chocolate Pecan Pies | Apple Crisp | Almond Crunch Pumpkin Cheesecake | Multicultural Stuffing (new!) | Pear Cornmeal Cake with Rosemary Syrup (new!) | Saag Paneer (new!)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mint and Anchovy Sauce
1 Lb. of Brussels sprouts, outer leaves trimmed and cut in half
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 Dozen of large mint leaves
Large handful of flat-leaf parsley
4 Anchovies in olive oil
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
2 Cloves of garlic
Fresh black pepper
Salt to taste
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Place prepared Brussels sprouts on a large baking sheet, toss with oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until cooked through, about 25 minutes.
3. While sprouts are roasting, make dressing; combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and combine until very smooth. Taste and add salt as desired.
4. Transfer hot sprouts to a large bowl, add butter and stir until melted.
5. Stir in dressing and serve immediately.