“Are you sure?”

Over the Holiday, I Had a Miscabbage

“I’m sure,” I whispered back.

Thanksgiving is meant to be a celebration of what we have, what we’re grateful for — but it can also be a time of reconciliation, especially when things don’t go as planned. It is with a heavy heart yet still plenty bloated belly that I am first now coming to terms with my holiday disappointment: the loss of my cabbage.

Back in March, when things were only starting to look grim for the world, and when it still seemed like they could turn around before winter, my husband and I discussed hosting Thanksgiving at our home — for the first time. We would invite his parents and siblings and mine, and we would do all the cooking. Bottles of wine would be graciously accepted as contributions, but otherwise we would provide the provisions. “I’m going to roast a cabbage,” I told my husband. “Are you sure?” he asked me. “I’m sure,” I whispered back.

Over the next several months, even as it looked less and less likely that gathering would be either in good taste or a good idea, I still gathered what I would need, making sure I had the common ingredients as well as the obscure: Dijon mustard; maple syrup; Worcestershire sauce; and, yes, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Every few weeks I would read and reread the recipe, just to assure myself that this was something I could do. I learned how to properly cut the stem off a head of cabbage. I learned the difference between whisking and simply mixing. I learned just how liberally one seasons liberally.

When right minded experts advised that groups should not get together for Thanksgiving, my husband and I called off our large family dinner. It would be just us this year. “I’d still like to roast a cabbage,” I told him. “Are you sure?” he asked me. “More than ever,” I whispered back.

Thanksgiving morning felt like Christmas morning, especially as I unwrapped the stick of unsalted butter for the three tablespoons I needed to melt. I preheated the oven to 400º. I whisked the butter with the mustard, syrup, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. In a large bowl, I combined quartered celery and yellow onions, carrots peeled and cut into thirds, olive oil, and chopped herbs. After placing the vegetable mixture in a large, oven-safe skillet, I nestled the cabbage in the center, brushing it all over with the melted butter mixture. Then I poured 2 ounces of low-sodium vegetable broth into the skillet and covered the whole thing with a blanket of aluminum foil… before placing it into the oven.

My cabbage was meant to cook for 45 minutes before I was to remove the foil and brush it with the remaining butter mixture… but even before half an hour had passed I sensed that something was wrong. I smelled smoke, and heard the quivering in my own voice as I called my husband to meet me in the kitchen. He held my hand as I turned on the oven light. He squeezed too tightly when we both saw that my cabbage was on fire. Literally on fire. It was no longer a viable side dish.

“Did you — ?” he started to ask, but stopped.

“We need a new oven,” I whispered, shaking with anger and confusion and grief, but mostly anger. “This one is a piece of shit.”

“Whatever you want, honey,” he told me.

Pseudonymously delicious.

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Anna Fig

Anna Fig

Pseudonymously delicious.

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