Thanksgiving is like Christmas Day for this post and its author. Think about it. This holiday- like this post- combines family, food, sports and fun with a drink and, depending on your tradition, music. Thanksgiving is the ultimate time to stay in around the Berkshires and the weekend that follows is the best time to head out into the Berkshires. Enjoy your holiday. and check out some of our tips.
(Black Friday) Polish Falcon’s Shuffle Board Tournament (Bel Aire Ave. Pittsfield)
The Falcon’s, a building nestled next to the Housatonic River where on the opposite bank sits St Charles Church, is a place that, though the city around it is quite different than it was even 20 years ago, remains unchanged. A scavenger hunt inside any local Polish heritage club would not exactly be challenging: find the paneling, urinal cake scent, someone with a “z” in their name…you get the point. What makes the Falc’s special is that it is buttressed by a lasting heritage of regular people that for generations have grown up in the adjoining neighborhoods, come of age at local schools, or suffered long CCD classes in the hot basement at Holy Family church. These people, without muscle or intimidation help to maintain an atmosphere where outsiders are welcome as long as they behave. The bar area is not overwhelmed, like some city haunts, with the obnoxious ranting of 2-3 year varsity heroes nicknamed some variation of “smitty,” thank god. Black Friday marks the annual shuffle board tournament where members are paired at random and compete in a lengthy tournament that concludes the next day. Drinks flow, the second best juke box in the city plays into the night, and the beer is fantastically cheap. The place is packed, and if you are good enough, you can challenge members young and old in a cribbage match.
(Sometime Between Tuesday and Saturday) Your High School Reunion
The quiet girl from 10th grade history? She is stunning now, but much like you did to her in said class all those years ago, she walks right by you. The pudgy kid from the bus stop you ask, he looks like Tom Brady and makes more money than you and Brady combined. The people watching takes you through the first awkward hours, but hooking up with old friends for drinks into the night is something that cannot be accomplished on Facebook. Class of ’95 PHS, THS, and St Joe will be celebrating 20 years this weekend, and the cast of characters from that group should keep the party going into the night. Have fun.
Stay home for the holidays.
To eat the orange stuff, or not to eat the orange stuff…
Texture & Taste: Turnip looks like mashed potatoes, but mistaking it for said potatoes would be tough not only because of the color, but because of the texture. Turnip has a mashed consistency, but has more noticeable lumps. I prefer the lumpy texture. The surprising sulfur taste works for those of us that like cauliflower, spinach, or beets.
Orange?: Not bright orange like other offerings, but orange to the point where you aren’t going to mistake it for potatoes.
Resemblance to Vomit: Because it is mashed, I would have to say that turnip has, maybe, a slight resemblance to vomit, but that is really it. If someone were to eat turnip raw and regurgitate it, I would imagine it being wetter than what we see at the dinner table.
Verdict: Try it. I would guess that 75% of the people that pass on turnip because it is orange would like turnip if they tried it.
Texture and Taste: Runny, wet, chunky, and soupy were the first adjectives that came to mind. If you are eating with a family that puts pineapple in their coleslaw then you have likely seen this dish. If you like cottage cheese and canned, mandarin oranges then you would like this shit.
Orange?: Like neon. How could an orange tint such as this occur naturally in food without processing and artificiality?
Resemblance to Vomit: I’ve long theorized that orange salad can only be mixed by the stomach muscle, and a blind taste test of regurgitated orange salad and non regurgitated orange salad would probably make for a hung jury.
Verdict: If this is on the table at Thanksgiving dinner, find another place to eat. If this is your idea of dessert, cancel the holiday.
Texture and Taste: Sweet like the name suggests with a consistency exactly like potatoes, this is the most polarizing of the orange dishes. Sweet potatoes are great with butter, but people tend to try to sweeten them. Sweetening works for some, but if you are in the class of people like me that prefer earthy or leafy tasting veggies then you may not like this.
Orange?: Like a crayon. The coolest thing about sweet potatoes is cutting them in half and seeing a natural orange.
Resemblance to Vomit: See turnip.
Verdict: Sweet potatoes are polarizing. I’d say there is a 50/50 chance that you would like them if you have not tried them, but if you like earthy tasting veggies and save sweets for dessert, then avoid this dish.
Work some football in around your eating.
Take the Lions (+1) over Philly. The Packers (-6) are favored over the Bears…I’d take the Pack. Keep an eye on the Carolina spread. They should beat the Cowboys by two TDs, yet they were only (-1) on the Tuesday line
Listen to some tunes.
To make great folk music in the vein of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, or Leadbelly is no easy task. Arlo Guthrie, Woody’s son, is a very good folk musician with his share of hits- not to mention he is a local legend. I have nothing against Arlo Guthrie; I have one of his albums, and it sounds just fine. That part where his song is featured in the Woodstock movie may be my favorite part of the movie and Woodstock lore. “Alice’s Restaurant” is a very good song, but I am not interested in listening to it.
Three lengthy folk tunes that would be better to listen to than “Alice’s Restaurant”
3. Grateful Dead: “Terrapin Station”
The eclectic and semi-meandering (at the end of the song) title track to one of the best Dead albums is a great song to listen to while enjoying a piece of pie or an after dinner cocktail.
2. Leadbelly: “My Girl,” “In the Pines,” “Black Girl”
Try the Nirvana version if you like- it is just as good. Leadbelly has great period folk music like the Tuberculosis Blues and his career and songs are like historical documents. This track would be great dinner music or nice music for coffee.
1. Dylan: “Desolation Row”
This is the best folk song of all time. The ebb and flow of guitar energy and the absurd lyrics are sang and played to perfection. There is an acoustic solo somewhere after minute ten and the lyrics- “yes I received you letters yesterday / about the time the doorknob broke / when you asked me how I was doing / was that some kind of joke-” are some of his best.
Kill some time with the family.
This may be the greatest game I have ever seen. It’s like family Russian Roulette. How do you beat that? You can reenact the scene from Deer Hunter- without having to worry about heading to prison– with your bratty kid just like you always wanted to.
Have a great holiday.
Christmas is right around the corner