Pass the Gravy

by Edie McClurg
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roasted_turkey.jpg Easter in our house, a tiny hovel on the east side of Kansas City, Missouri, was always fraught with tension generated by my Mother. She was not used to entertaining and on holidays we hosted my cousin, a Jesuit priest, for Sunday dinner. We usually did Turkey and Fixings’. Mama would get up in the middle of the night to put the big Tom turkey in the oven. No wonder by dinnertime it was dry and tough.

But she made pretty good gravy and it was the most requested part of the meal. “Any more gravy, Irene? My, my! That sure is fine gravy! Please, pass the gravy!” The moistening effect on the dry turkey was just what was needed.

About 5 minutes into the meal, having been blessed by the priest, my  Mother would yelp and leap up “The crescent rolls! I forgot the rolls were in the oven!” By then, they would be hardtack. “Any more butter, Irene? How about some butter at this end of the table?” Yes, more moistening needed. When I was about 8 years old, I was allowed to help with preparing the radish, celery, and pickle array on cut glass dishes.

slicedpickles.jpg Sweet gherkins were an expensive holiday treat. The small jar didn’t yield enough, so my Mother had me slice them lengthwise to look more plentiful. Father Ed was always very complimentary about the meal. He took a couple of pickle pieces and commented how tasty they were. I piped up, “If you cut them in half, it looks like there’s more!” Mama turned beet red, the priest laughed and said “That’s a good tip! I’ll remember that.” It became a family story, told at my expense, for years to come. 

I have since been to palaces for sumptuous banquets in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Paris, Prague, New York, and Los Angeles. Their memory fades quickly; but those Easter dinners in Kansas City are indelible.

 

Edie McClurg was a manager of an NPR station in Kansas City and has voiced and produced
many segments of “All Things Considered”. She is a film and television actress and
multi-talented improvisational comedian.

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