Do the chairs in your parlor seem empty and bare (who has a parlor)? Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?
What I’m really trying to ask, dearest Filthy Dreams turklets, is: are you lonesome tonight?
What’s that, my little gizzard and gobblers? Oh, I know, I know. Thanksgiving is just not the same this year. Isolated, quarantined, LONESOME. Ho-hum! Even beyond the social alienation, why it’s just so stressful! There are so many big decisions to make about next week! Are you going to travel and super-spread to your family? Are you going to seat yourself next to your QANON aunt in the hopes that you’re an asymptomatic carrier and this is the last time you’ll have to endure tales of blood-drinking pedophiles like Hillary Clinton and Bill Gates over mashed potatoes? Or are you going to cozy up next to your uncle that tags you in boomer Facebook conspiracy posts about rampant voter fraud and ballot dumps in muddy creeks in order to prove that Donald Trump did, indeed, win the 2020 election (he didn’t.)? Or are you going to, instead, attend a Friendsgiving and pretend that’ll be any different during a pandemic? What?! I’m sure you’ll be FINE!
Or if passive aggressive homicide isn’t your style, maybe you’re planning on being stuck in your apartment, concocting ill-advised gastronomic experiments while under the influence and avoiding family Zoom calls? Well, join the club, my faithful sprouts and yams! Us too!
With this flurry of nightmarish logistical decision-making, who even has stopped to figure out what to make for Thanksgiving dinner? I mean, that’s the point of all this, isn’t it? But who has the time to write out a menu let alone brave breathing in the COVID air at the grocery store as you spin around hyperventilating down the aisles in a maniacal holiday panic? Everyone knows panic attacks aren’t great for contagion. But what else are you going to do?! Get takeout? The horror! What an insult to our turkey gods!
Or are you going to follow that dream rather than wallowing in a mess of the blues?
That’s right. This year, the Filthy Dreams Kitchen is looking toward the only thing I’m thankful for this year and well, really any year: ELVIS! Who better than the King to act as a bloated beacon to satiating appetites on this Blue Thanksgiving? I mean, why not wrench at your clothes and tear at your hair while putting a Chicken à la King on the stove? That’ll get the juices flowing after standing six feet from other human beings for nine months. Try not to hunka hunka burn your building down.
Luckily, there is an entire cottage industry of Elvis-influenced cookbooks to provide a plethora of possible plates this Thanksgiving. The Presley Family Cookbook. Elvis Presley Greatest Hits Cookbook. From Elvis’ Kitchen to Yours. The Presley Family and Friends Cookbook. The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley. The I Love Elvis Cookbook. Graceland’s Table. Fit for a King: The Elvis Presley Cookbook. And my personal favorite and the one that lives in my collection (though I’m endlessly ashamed that I don’t already own all of these): Are You Hungry Tonight?
I only wish there were as many books about his drug cocktail choices.
Of course, it’s no surprise that Elvis left a long-lasting epicurean legacy. We all know Elvis loved to eat. I mean, he didn’t fill out those bedazzled jumpsuits through substance abuse alone! It was the stick of butter he used to fry up his peanut butter and banana sandwiches! Was Elvis’ taste refined and classy? Fuck no! Not our King! As the introduction to Are You Hungry Tonight? explains, “He lived like a king, but he ate like his subjects.” That’s our boy from Tupelo.
While the Filthy Dreams Kitchen has previously cooked and served up some dreadful dishes straight from your night terrors for your nauseated, gagging displeasure on previous Thanksgivings, this year we wanted to offer something a tad more soothing, but no less trashy. Haven’t we been through enough this year? These cookbooks mix together images of the most basic Americana food imaginable next to deliciously cheesy photographs of the King himself. That pairing is enough to satisfy me! Who needs actual sustenance?!
Or to try new things? Gross! I’ll take the spaghetti and meatballs that Elvis is grinning at. Thank you very much! And don’t worry–we haven’t lost our edge here at the chopping board. Some of these food illustrations are downright revolting, but it’s hard to notice after being hypnotized by Elvis’ blue eyes crying in the rain.
But don’t mistake the simplicity of the home-cooked recipes for laziness and easy exploitation of our ravenous idol worship. These cookbooks are extremely precise–maybe TOO precise. I mean, who was rooting around in Elvis’ fridge:
“At home, the King always specified exactly what foods should be kept on hand, whether at his Graceland mansion in Memphis or at his house in Beverly Hills. His list always included fresh, lean, ground round, hamburger buns, rolls, at least six cans of ready-to-bake biscuits, pickles, potatoes, onion, shredded coconut, fudge cookies, assorted fresh fruit, canned sauerkraut, mustard, and peanut butter. His refrigerator also contained at least three bottles of milk or half-and-half, thin-sliced, lean bacon, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, and freshly squeezed orange juice. His favorite soft drinks are said to have been Pepsi Cola, Nesbitt’s Orange, and Shasta Black Cherry. He liked to chew Wrigley’s Spearmint, Doublemint, and Juicy Fruit gum.”
In all honesty, I’m glad that this unhinged stalker rifled through Elvis’ cupboards for the sake of history and to possibly steal some of his hamburger buns. Given the chance, I’d do the same thing!
This Thanksgiving, these recipes coupled with the King himself should provide you with enough motivation to rip it up rather than sitting slumped on your sofa like every other day. Why not repeat Elvis’ “Fairytale”’s off-key hollering (“There’s NO NEED to explain any moooooooore”) over and over until your neighbors beat on your walls and call the cops? Or even better, become born again in the warm glow of Elvis and start proselytizing from your fire escape with Elvis’ gospel songs like “He Touched Me” as your transcendent soundtrack? I mean, isn’t 2020 the perfect time to start a cult? It’s not too late! Or guzzle some of our World Famous Pumpkin Punch and trap your unwitting family members on FaceTime as you attempt to recreate Elvis’ harried, hammered, and slurred mutterings off of Having Fun with Elvis? See if your wholesome Thanksgiving family video chat can transition nicely into an intervention!
So scroll through these recipes, gathered from my collection and others I’ve stolen off the Internet, my sweetest potato pies. Let the smell of bacon grease and biscuits take you away to…no, not Dreamland! To the milky white gates of Graceland! Lead me, guide me, Elvis! How great thou art!