How do you, as an engineer, ensure a fun, technically successful holiday meal?
SAN FRANCISCO--Thanksgiving Day... I can't wait! Can't wait for what
is perhaps second only to Christmas (in North America) as a time of
outsized holiday stress.
You have your basic social anxieties, right? You may be hosting the
meal and friends and family or even visiting friends and family. The
social dynamics (especially with family) can drive you to drink.
"Why am I here? A burger and a beer will do just
fine to spend a holiday that celebrates conquest and subjugation.
What purpose does it serve to perform culinary calisthenics and
listen to people drone on about their wondrous, adventuresome
There's mom, over in the corner talking to a friend saying something
completely inappropriate (or, worse, scientifically inaccurate). The
dog just pooped on the rug, looking straight at you with a faint
smile on his face. And the kids... well the little darlings are just
everywhere, aren't they?
You're thinking, it'd be great just to spend the day
figuring out how to program your Nissan Leaf to turn on your
neighbor's automatic sprinkler system at inappropriate times.
That's stress No. 1.
Stress No. 2 comes after you've resigned yourself to this gauche
spectacle of forced smiles and faux interest in your well being.
Stress 2 is cooking.
You're an engineer, and since the success of the gathering usually
hinges on the acceptability of the food, you feel obligated to make
sure the preparation succeeds.
If you haven't taken control, from
conception to implementation, you've at least insinuated yourself
into the implementation side of the process. After all, a great meal
(pardon me) boils down to precise measurements of weight, volume,
temperature and time, and you know how to manage that better than
So, a series of questions for you:
- How do you manage the stress?
- If you take charge on Thanksgiving Day and don the toque, what are the protocols
you use to ensure success and avoid a field failure, like the
one pictured nearby?
- And, lastly, what are your preparing this year and how?
For my part, I'll be cooking, but just for three people. I'll have my
iPhone with me at all times (for me, it's an idiot-proof cooking
timer, reference tool and source for NFL scores) and I'll have a
laptop bookmarked to engineer Michael Chu's great site, Cooking for
, which can serve as a useful 911 resource when
you're in trouble. (Here's a link
to his Thanksgiving page
So, how about you?
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