Turkey À La Russe
My friend Edouard is seventy-eight. He started out as a truck driver and Teamster, then joined the Air Force before discovering his love of books. He got a PhD and went on to teach English Lit for four decades. But when he retired, he gave up reading fiction altogether, and became a full-time cinephile. His living room is a movie theater with a ten-foot-wide projection screen.
Thanksgiving orphans both, we decided to collaborate on the turkey project. He ran the bird department, and I managed the accessories. We slow-cooked a cranberry-strawberry-rhubarb sauce flavored with orange zest and cinnamon stick. We made tiny volcanic mounds of mashed turnips and potatoes, filling their craters with little gravy-lakes. And for dessert: German chocolate bars. An unorthodox meal perhaps, but a memorable one.
Afterwards, we staggered into the screening room. With his customary elegant and theatrical touch, Edouard produced two DVD's. "You will choose, Girish," he said, "And the candidates are both Russian: (1) Dovzhenko's Earth, and (2) From Russia With Love". I ambitiously pointed to the former.
But with tryptophan coursing through my veins, the silent film proved a bewilderingly fragmented head-scratcher. An hour and a half passed in a drowsy blur. At the end of the night, I took my leave. It remained unsaid but I knew what we were both thinking: shoulda gone with the James Bond.