The Art of Turkey

You must deny you are holding the carcass of a dead bird in your hands. You are not a vegetarian, and you secretly make fun of vegetarians when they discuss things such as “chickens’ feelings.” But now you are rinsing out a turkey under running water, and you put your hands into what they call the inner cavity. You are invading the interior recesses of a dead bird. Several vital organs have been gathered there into a small paper bag. You are not to be shocked by this. The art of making a turkey is about not being shocked. You have guests.

The Art of Mashed Potatoes

You should provide the smoothest, most gravy-inviting potatoes to your friends and relatives as they pass the large bowl. The art of mashed potatoes involves milk, melted butter, plugging in the mixer, and remembering skinny-dipping with your mother and sisters on hot August nights. Garlic optional. A touch of salt on your lips. But mostly, you just mix and blend in the moonlight until you imagine the eyes of your guests rolling upwards while the empty forks hang from their lips. Serve warm.

The Art of Pickle Relish

You must serve the carrot sticks and broccoli and radishes and veggies on a beautiful glass tray to disguise the fact that they don’t taste very good. No one wants raw celery—ever. Therefore, these food items get the expensive-looking cut glass. If possible, arrange all the inedibles in the shape of a lovely fan. Look smug as your guests pretend to enjoy eating them.

The Art of Cranberry Sauce

Once upon a time there were two little children named Hansel and Gretel. They lived in Germany, but that’s not their fault. One day they found a really cool house made of gingerbread and they thought they had it made. Unfortunately, the children were chased around by a terrible witch and they almost died. Life is like that sometimes. Surprising. Scary. So it is with cranberries. They can be taste good, but you have to be really, really careful.

The Art of Corn Casserole

The art of corn casserole is to combine two cans of corn, one cup of bread crumbs, and 1/2 cup of milk in a glass bowl. Stir. Open a bag of potato chips, eat one, and smash the remainder under your fists. Then throw two handfuls of the crumbs on top of the corn mess. This is best done when no one is looking, especially if you live in California where no one has heard of corn casserole—they may not understand. You will be summoning the spirits of your potluck-minded ancestors from the Midwest, something discouraged for the most part. Bake at 350°. Put on your oven mitts. Begin the grandmother séance.