Edy’s Restaurant was a special-occasions-only place: burgers and fries when Grandma Jan came to visit, milkshakes for birthday dinners out. I loved the crinkle-cut pickle circles and the white-bread buns, the jaunty peaks of whipped cream and luminous maraschino cherries that capped the shakes. I can’t remember why we were there the last time my dad ever took us to eat at Edy’s. But I remember why we left.
The sign that could be turned to say either “Please Seat Yourself” or “Please Wait To Be Seated” instructed us to find our own seats, and we walked to a booth against the long mirrored wall. I had already decided on a strawberry milkshake.
Walking in right behind us came a man, a man we had passed before on the street outside. His face was weathered, tanned to a dark brown. His clothes were greasy looking, his hair longish, and he had a beard. When we sat down I was facing away from him, but my dad must have been able to see him clearly.
I remember hearing the rising voice of the waitress, an older woman in a brown uniform with a white apron. I don’t remember the words, but her tone was shrill. I must have turned around, because in my memory I can see the man, his face tired and sad-looking, as he showed her careful piles of coins, arranged on the table. “But I have money,” he kept saying. “I have money!”
By the time the manager came to escort the man back outside, refusing to allow him to order food or pay with his collection of change, my dad had us up out of our booth, and we were following him. I don’t remember what my dad said to the waitress and the manager, not precisely, but I remember the sound of his voice, and the blue denim color of his jeans, and the feel of his hand at my shoulder as he led me and Dan firmly out the door.
When I asked my dad about the incident years later, he shook his head, angry all over again. “I felt so awful for that man,” he said. “They were denying food to a hungry person, who had the money to pay for it, just because he was homeless and paying in change. I told the waitress that if his money was no good there, then ours wasn’t either.”
I know it’s stock to say, even trite, that as we enter this time of celebrating and thankfulness we should be sure to remember those who are hungry. I’m pretty sure most of you don’t need to be reminded that many – so many – people are hungry. I trust you are all sharing some of your bounty, whatever it may be. But a reminder to stand up for people with our hearts – not just with our wallets and our cans of tuna, but with our voices, our solidarity, sometimes even with our feet. Maybe that’s a better reminder.
“Some five million tons of food—enough to fill the John Hancock Building more than 14 times—will be wasted between Thanksgiving and the end of 2013.” (From Food Tank: The Food Think Tank, via The Lunch Tray.)
SNAP benefits will be cut for all participants in November 2013. That’s 47 million Americans, 22 million of them children, whose food insecurity is increasing as we enter this celebration of plenty.
62% of America’s teachers see kids coming to school hungry. Every day. When their schools are on holiday for Thanksgiving, many of those kids are missing their one guaranteed meal each day.
Our local food banks need donations of healthy food, volunteers to sort, bag, and deliver it, advocates to lobby on behalf of anti-hunger legislation, and supporters to give cash that they use to buy food at greatly reduced rates. Wherever you are, your food banks probably need the same.
Homeless people are often hungry, and they need advocates. The causes and consequences of homelessness are complex, but people helping each other can be very straightforward.
We have been getting so much delicata lately; our CSA, our favorite farm stand, even our grocery store. I have a few recipes that I love (try my Thanksgiving version from last year here, or Emmy’s here, or Heidi’s here) but this is a new take – nutmeg and cream replace my default salt-and-olive-oil for roasting, giving the squash a festive holiday feel that Thanksgiving revelers would no doubt appreciate. Delicata is easy because the peel is edible, but Sarah suggests acorn squash as an alternative and I think that would be nice, too.
Sarah cut hers into simple boats, which is certainly easy, but since my kids are all about bite-sized and dippable, I went for my usual slices. I let them get pretty toasty, too; everyone here likes a crispy edge. But feel free to make them a little less
brown er, golden, if you prefer the softer side of squash …
2 delicata squash (~ 2 1/2 pounds), seeded, each half cut crosswise into slices
1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg (‘a pinch’, but our pinch was generous)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. (Sarah puts this on the boats before baking, but I find with the smaller pieces it can end up a little too charred – that said, if you’re prepared to watch it carefully, the cheese in the oven is the way to go. Otherwise, sprinkle on just before serving.)
Heat the oven to 400 F.
Arrange the squash pieces on two rimmed baking sheets, in a single layer. Use a pastry brush to brush each piece with the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Grate the nutmeg directly over the pieces, and sprinkle them with just a tiny pinch of cheese.
Bake for ~30 minutes, basting once or twice with additional cream if needed. The cream will thicken and brown, and the squash should be golden but still tender.
Serve warm, with an additional dusting of fresh nutmeg if you’d like.