An Urban Thanksgiving Adventure –

The day started traditionally enough. We prepared our assigned dishes for the family potluck, starting with scrubbing and salting sweet potatoes before slipping them into the oven. Then it was time to prep Glog – a new family favorite. We cut up fruit, added juice and spices then set it to simmer. There were still hours before joining family and one more task to complete. Our Thanksgiving adventure was well underway.

Off we ventured to visit my partner, Dave’s fish processing plant, Catalina Offshore Products.  Our task – claim four lobster for dinner. Dave expertly lifted them from the tanks and soon two blue, one green and a red, found themselves riding along in a box on the back seat. Lobster Tank

Fiesta Island in San Diego’s Mission Bay was on the way home and we had time for a short stop. Last week a sixty-seven foot long Fin Whale washed up near the Point Loma lighthouse. It’s rare to see one of these lengthy Cetaceans up close. Marine biologists had towed it to a beach on the island to investigate the cause of death. After hours and a smelly necropsy, researchers determined  that a traumatic collision with a large vessel had killed the whale.

Fin Whale San DiegoA week later, after discussions, and a generous donation by the Virgin Oceanic foundation set up by Sir Richard Branson,  the whale was tethered to the island until it could be towed out to sea for an observed ‘whale fall. ‘ It’s been a boon for marine biologists who’ve been able to study the DNA and will be able to watch as the whale becomes a living laboratory being consumed by marine life.

In the meantime, the public, awash with curiosity, have been lining up to pay their respects. When we arrived it wasn’t a pretty picture. The whale had been decomposing for over a week, but the immensity and strangely compelling curves of its long body were still beautiful. We joined the small, quiet crowd along the fenced-off beach.  It was sobering and amazing. I wished that there had never been a collision that cut the whales life short, but was grateful to see even the floating remains of such an exotic and gigantic creature.

Soon we were off again, rolling along the shoreline of Mission Bay towards home. It’s been a fairly wet fall for San Diego. On the drive , we noticed that the median strip lawn was sprinkled with small, pale domes – wild mushrooms. For years Dave has been harvesting different varieties for study and careful dining. He was thrilled to find Inky Caps in one area and within a few minutes we’d gathered more than a dozen. Inky Cap mushroomsThese wil mushrooms have a strange, short life. Poking out of the grass with a pointed, rough dome, they stand white and tall for only a day before starting to decompose. They quickly age as edges start to turn black and curl, thinning until all that remains are inky globs. Harvesting, cleaning and consuming has to be done quickly. At home we sliced several, putting a few into the food drier and the rest into our tummies after sauteeing them in a little butter and garlic. They were delicious with a subtle, melt-in-your-mouth sweetness. It was a rare appetizing prelude to our Thanksgiving feast.

Soon after the sweet potatoes were fluffed into a tasty casserole. The lobster dispatched quickly and their tails lightly poached then marinated.  A few hours later the lobster were fired over mesquite on my brothers grill. At the table, after the family toast with Glog, everyone filled their plates with turkey and fixings, alongside the juicy lobster tails. I lifted mine from its shell with gratitude and more than a little wonder for surprising Thanksgiving adventure