Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Homework

I once worked in a restaurant that served ho-made turkey and dressing every Sunday (I was the ho). Our dressing recipe was one my mother, and her mother, would have been comfortable with. It had a good cornbread base, with aromatic veggies, chicken stock, and herbs. Nothing flashy - just good, simple, southern cooking. It was a constant source of conflict and intrigue.

My boss, the chef, liked it with less sage. His boss, the restaurant owner, liked it with more.

The owner came through the kitchen every Sunday morning, inspecting the troops and tasting the specials. "More sage", he would say when he got to the dressing. At first, I would add the amount of sage I liked, confident that a tasty dish would save the day. "Not enough sage", said the owner. "Good God, you've ruined this!" said the chef.

After a few weekends like this, the chef gave me explicit instructions to use no sage in the dressing. "You want to get me fired, don't you?", I complained. "The owner already thinks I'm a stubborn idiot."

"I run this kitchen.", he said. Yet next Sunday, and the Sunday after that, when Owner demanded more sage, and more, the imperious Chef was curiously absent. He showed up again after Owner retired, futzing with the gravy and berating my leaden tongue. One time he made me bake another batch of cornbread to dilute the sage.

As you might well imagine, the Sunday Dressing was not among the more consistent items on our menu, yet in two years of Sundays, I only once ever threw out more than a half-pound of that dressing, or turned away more than an order or two because it was all gone. Our internecine struggles - their strategies and consequences, their victories and defeats - meant nothing to the bottom line of that restaurant. We sold just under two dozen orders of turkey and dressing every Sunday, like clockwork.

Your assignment is to turn this story into an allegory of American politics. As always, feel free to take liberties with the facts.

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