Far from a poster-child for exemplary behavior in the past, April is now a young adult coming into her own. She invites her mostly estranged suburban-dwelling family to her Lower East Side apartment for Thanksgiving dinner, with a nervous hope that their cold demeanor will start to warm up a bit.
It turns out that April's mother Joy is in the final stages of cancer, and this may be her final Thanksgiving. With mood swings that range from sweet and blissful to downright nasty, Joy is not a very lovable character. I found myself thinking "what a bitch" in my head so many times throughout the movie, which I found disconcerting, since she is dying...and it's sad and understandable. Sort of. I don't understand not being able to remember even one happy memory of your own daughter. As much as I enjoyed Katie Holmes as April in this film, it was Patricia Clarkson as her mom that stole the show. Of course, because Clarkson is flipping brilliant (for lack of a more eloquent term).
The movie consists of three roads. The first one being the roadtrip filled with a rollercoaster of emotions, aka April's family. Her mom Joy, her dad Jim, her brother Tim, her grandma, and her evil (seriously couldn't stand her) sister Beth. Her dad sees the good in April and wants the rest of the family to see it, too. Between her a$$hole mother and sister, he doesn't stand a chance.
The second road follows Bobby, April's boyfriend. He wants to make a good impression on her family, but doesn' t have a lot of money. He's already purchased festive decorations for their apartment, but now he's on the hunt to "clean up", if you will.
Turkey in hand, April starts knocking on her neighbors doors, trying to find an oven she can borrow. She winds up dividing her time between three ovens, and three very different sets of neighbors. First it's married couple Eugene and Evette. They listen to her story and decide they're going to help her. She can put her turkey in their oven until it's time for theirs to go in. April spends time with them in their kitchen while they prepare Sweet Potato Soup with Buttered Pecans...Herbed Oyster Stuffing...Giblet Gravy...Lemon Rosemary Green Beans...Hickory Nut Ice Cream...and Maple Pumpkin Pie. They ask her what she's going to be making, and she mentions cranberry sauce from a can and that she "likes it from the can".
Eventually she has to transport her turkey and winds up at the single creepy guy with a dog's apartment. It doesn't end well when he holds her turkey hostage and even rips off one of the legs for his dog.
When she starts to lose hope, she winds up at an apartment filled with a multi-general immigrant family whose elders don't speak english, but she communicates through the younger generation well enough to work her turkey into their oven. They ask her to explain Thanksgiving to her, and welcome her into their kitchen.
As far as the food goes, when April is describing what she will be making, she mentions Green Bean Casserole, an oyster dish with crackers, butter, and milk, and a very typical side dish (at least in the east), Waldorf Salad.
I like Waldorf Salad, and it's something I eat every now again, but it's never made an appearance at our Thanksgiving table. I want that to change, because it adds the perfect fresh and crunchy element to the meal. Bright fall apples, celery, juicy grapes, and toasted nuts—I mean, come on! Traditionally, it's all folded into mayonnaise. I've also had versions that were part mayo and part sour cream. I really didn't want either, so I decided to use Greek yogurt and sweetened it with just a hint of honey.
Aside from being a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving table, it's also great as a sandwich the next day. Combine it with turkey (either mix it in, or pile it on top) and butter lettuce on a croissant, and you have brunch at its finest.
This was my first time watching Pieces of April, but I'm pretty sure I'll be pulling it out every November going forward. Thanks to Deb for the fun flick pick!
Forget the mayonnaise, in my version of Waldorf Salad, the crisp apples and celery, juicy grapes, and toasted walnuts are all folded into Greek yogurt that has been lightly sweetened with honey. It's a must-have addition to any Thanksgiving table (and it's good on a random Wednesday, too).
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: n/a
Keywords: side salad vegetarian apples greek yogurt walnuts grapes Thanksgiving American fall
Ingredients (serves 8-10)
- 4 apples (preferably a mix of colors and textures)
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 large celery stalks, diced 1/4" (3/4 cup)
- 1 cup halved grapes
- 3/4 cup toasted and roughly chopped walnuts
- 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- big pinch kosher or sea salt
- big pinch ground white pepper
Cut the apples into 1/2-inch to 1-inch chunks. Place in a large bowl and toss with the juice from half of a lemon. Add diced celery, halved grapes, and chopped walnuts; toss to combine.
Stir all of the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour over the other ingredients, and carefully fold everything together. Serve chilled or at a cool room temperature. This can be made up to 24 hours in advance; wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Next month I'll be hosting with one of my favorite movies for the season - A Christmas Story! I'd love it if you'd watch with us, then head into the kitchen and cook/bake something inspired by the movie. I'll post an "official" announcement at the beginning of December, so keep an eye out for that.
If you're interested in Food 'n Flix, we welcome anybody with a blog to join us. Check out the Food 'n Flix hosting schedule if you want to see a preview of what's on the marquee for 2015!