Confronting my culinary shortcomings this Thanksgiving

Published 10:31 am Thursday, November 17, 2022

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Few meals being prepared can rise to the level of Thanksgiving, with smells circling through our brains that rekindle memories from all the way back to our childhood. It is a feat to behold and absorb.

This year, my contribution to that memory-triggering flood will be…nothing. Zero. Inviting me into the kitchen is a lot like asking me to sing. It’s not something I can do. At all. (Well, I can make some mean eggs in a cast iron skillet, or so I’m told.)

I stand in awe of anyone with cooking and baking skills. For them, it must be like David Gilmour’s Pink Floyd solo in “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” The effortless blending of sweetness and spice to make a masterpiece.

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Oh, to be an Anthony Bourdain, Wolfgang Puck, Paul Hollywood or the incomparable Julia Child. Sifting. Kneading. Proving. Measuring. Mixing. Stirring. Spreading. Pouring. Chopping. Dicing. Slicing. And lastly, tasting–my favorite.

But, alas, put a kitchen knife in my hands and you better have the EMT crew on standby because blood is sure to follow. I struggle with the simple task of measuring. While the pros zip through that step, I struggle to get the liquid or powder at exactly 2 cups and not a pinch more or less, taking away and putting back, taking away and putting back. It is a pathetic exercise in sheer novelty.

The list of Southern chefs to love is endless. What’s not to love about Vivian Howard, the rural eastern North Carolina chef whose smile and voice alone could make you want to ask for a biscuit to sop up the juiciness? She makes the whole process look like the most fun you could ever have.

Right here in our region we are so fortunate to have excellent chefs that hold their own with any of the big names.

But if I were turned loose in the kitchen, there would be no mouth watering, no biscuit sopping, no comparison to that amazing bone-in ribeye. Au contraire. Sideline observers would whisper softly to each other, “Where do they keep the fire extinguisher?”

If I were cooking, the kitchen sound most often heard would be the screech of the smoke detector.

The only cooking I’m known to attempt is canned biscuits, frozen pizza and toast. And maybe those eggs.

I am an unabashed failure in the kitchen.

So I salute to all of you who will go into your kitchens next week and work your magic, bringing your culinary solo to a crescendo and prompting many of us to speak those words of admiration and appreciation: pass the biscuits, please.


Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at