One Thanksgiving, 1980-something, my family was gathered around the holiday table ready to dig into creamy mashed potatoes, a roasted turkey, black duck, canned beets, string beans, homemade cranberry sauce, homemade fluffy yeast rolls and breaded stuffing. Suddenly, my 75 year old grandmother looked up from her plate in a panic and said, “I forgot to bring the mincemeat pie! It’s at home on the kitchen counter!”
BLACK DUCK, BIRD SHOT AND MINCEMEAT PIE
By J. L. Wood
|Continued from Home Page.
The clink of utensils echoed around the table as forks and knives dropped onto the fancy plates. Before you knew it, my Dad was dashing out the front door to go get the mincemeat pie. The table grew silent as we all laid our utensils down beside our plates and waited for Dad to get back.
“Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without that ole mincemeat pie,” declared Mom in an elevated voice. She looked across the table, making eye contact with Gram, “Isn’t that right Ma?”
“Ah-yah,” replied Gram adding “I can’t remember a Thanksgiving dinner growing up when a mincemeat pie wasn’t on our table.”
I noticed Mom looking over at my dinner plate with a raised eyebrow. Undoubtedly noticing I didn’t have a serving of black duck. Before I knew it, a piece of black duck was being pushed off of the serving fork onto my plate.
“Ma, how many times do I have to tell you I don’t like black duck?”
“Oh, you’ve never tried it,” replied Mom. “It’s very good.”
“We should wait for Dad,” I said, trying to change the conversation.
“Oh, just give it a try. You might find out you like it,” Mom said with a twinkle in her eye.
I had tried black duck every single Thanksgiving for as long as I could remember, having this very same conversation with a woman that’s either forgetful or persistent. Knowing Mom like I did, it was the latter. So, once again I succumb to her whim and begrudgingly tried it.
I picked up my fork and pushed the dark meat around in my plate, grabbed the knife and cut off a piece and put it in my mouth. My nose wrinkled and my mouth puckered as that wild gamey taste overcame my pallet. As I began to chew I felt something round and hard between my back teeth. I grabbed my napkin and spit the half chewed piece black duck out into the napkin to find a couple small pieces of bird shot.
“What’s wrong with it?” She asked.
Mom was looking at me intently as I opened up the napkin and showed her the bird shot.
“Well, aside from the bird shot, do you like it?”
“Ma, the bird shot tastes better than the duck! So, I guess that would be a no!”
Before you knew it, Dad was back with mincemeat pie in hand, having only traveled a couple of miles to Grams house. Mom met him at the door, took the pie and placed it on the counter with ooh’s and ahh’s all around.
“Looks good Gram!” A voice shouted from around the table.
Gram looked up from her plate with a smile.
“What exactly is in a mincemeat pie anyway?” Dad asked.
Gram looked over at him, leaning really close and said, “Oh a little bit of this, a dab or two of that.”
“What does that mean?”
I noticed Gram became a bit uneasy, shifting positions in her chair, fiddling with her napkin.
“Oh…de-ah,” she replied under her breath.
Gram looked puzzled.
“De-ah,” Gram repeated.
Mom busted out laughing, then hollered across the table at Dad, “DEER! There’s deer meat in her mincemeat pie!”
The table erupted in laughter as the clinging of utensils against the plates commenced. Mom rested her hand on my arm, gave me a devilish wink and looked over at Dad and asked, “Are you going to ask me what’s in the black duck?”
Dad glared back at her with a smirk and replied, “Oh a little bit of this, a dab or two of that.”
In loving memory of ENH-Q, CJQ-W and NEW.