Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Virtues of a virtual Thanksgiving

This week marked a watershed moment in my family tradition: My parents, who retired in Maine, will be coming to my sister's apartment in New York City for Thanksgiving dinner. And while it's true that my sister and I will be holiday hosts for the very first time, that's not why this holiday feels so progressive (we would have held one sooner, had either one of us a decently sized apartment). No, the biggest difference is not how we got to the table (me, via regular public transport; my parents, the same old Camry), but rather how the food ended up there.

Without the cache of cookbooks we had in Maine, my sister and I made do with what was at our disposal—namely, the great, vast Epicurious.com. The squash recipe, the turkey-baking how-to and the prize-winning pie instructions were all found by typing a mere three keywords. After a few more recipe searches ("sweet potato,"—check; "gravy"—check), we printed a stack of web recipes, and were set to shop. But the thought of waiting on a megaline at the cavernous Lower East Side Whole Foods, then lugging bags home to a fourth-floor walkup was terribly unappealing. So again, we ventured online and filled our wish list on FreshDirect, and had the food delivered straight to her door. The whole affair was not very ceremonious (and admittedly kinda lazy), but irresistibly convenient nonetheless.

On Thursday, our family will bake, watch some TV, gorge on an early turkey dinner, and subsequently slip into a tryptophan coma—just like last year, and like we'll undoubtedly do next. But for future holidays, particularly those in NYC, it's unlikely that we'll sift through recipe books (which are all in New England) or wait in line for a frozen bird like in days of yore. We only upgraded a few steps along the way, yet our Thanksgiving feast has been redesigned—possibly irrevocably—for the digital age.

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