One evening when I was probably in my teens, my mother brought home some cactus leaves from the grocery store and cooked them as a side dish for dinner. It was an attempt to be more adventurous with our cuisine, and we all took it in the proper spirit.
Unfortunately we lived in the pre-Internet world then, so it's pretty safe to say that she didn't have an actual recipe or instructions for cooking the cactus. I'm not sure if she steamed or boiled it, but what I do remember clearly is the result: slices of gooey vegetation that oozed pools of green slime.
As I said before, we were all game to try it. My mom, my sister and I each ate at least one bite but we all had to admit that it was pretty disgusting. Funny, but disgusting.
Then my mom threw a piece of slimy cactus at my sister. After the moment of surprise wore off, my sister threw one at me. We laughed and laughed while we emptied the pan and splattered the kitchen table and each other with strips of sticky green vegetable.
While I'm preparing Thanksgiving dishes tomorrow, many with recipes from my mother and grandmother, I'll be thinking of them and remembering my mom's lesson that a cooking disaster can still be turned into something fun.
Happy Thanksgiving and don't take anything too seriously!