I looked desperately at my mom and dad. Mom was thrilled about the "turkey" she could finally eat. Dad thought the whole thing was hilarious. There was nothing to do but hold my plate out and take part in this Twilight zone-level theater of the absurd. Cauliflower. An insult to turkeys everywhere.
In the car on the way home, I made my parents promise that we would never return to that house for Thanksgiving. They obliged. The next year, and for many following, we returned to our safe, tryptophan-filled party. While I'd like to say that I relished the hunks of rosemary-scented muscle and fat festooned with globs of gravy, I'm not going to lie. I actually kind of hate turkey and always have. It was the principle of the thing.
I suppose I should be happy that my "worst Thanksgiving ever" involves cauliflower and not glass-breaking hysterics or worse. I am. I'm thankful to have been surrounded by loved ones on every Thanksgiving I can remember. And I can't blame my family friend, whom I adore, for not making me a bird that she didn't want to eat.
Nevertheless, since then, I've taken a proactive stance on what appears on the Thanksgiving table, whether it's my own or not (future hosts, be warned). This year, I'm cooking at my in-law's. Items likely to appear on the menu include brussel sprouts, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, a chicken, and maybe a leg of lamb. But no cauliflower. There will not be any cauliflower.