On tomorrow’s episode of The Stitch, episode 205, you’re going to see a double wedding ring quilt hanging behind us that Lynn made with the name “Velveeta Cheese Is Not Real Cheese”. We didn’t get into the naming and story of the quilt in the episode, but wanted to give you a little background of the story behind it.
In 2006, Lynn was on assignment in Woking, England, so her Thanksgiving was to be a new experience. She was with a group of Americans, and they decided to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday by cooking traditional US food and having a party, since so many were homesick for family and friends and trying to make the best of it. Normally, Lynn stayed in hotels and not in apartments, but the longevity of the assignment had many of her team in a flat, so they had the opportunity to cook the meal from scratch. Lynn has been trained by some of the best cooks in North America on Thanksgiving traditions (and not just through Google searches and Pinterest!), so she can hold her own in a kitchen. No problem, right? Ha!
Before Lynn joined her team in the UK, she took orders on what ingredients were lacking for the Thanksgiving meal. Her list included corn syrup, corn bread mix, onion soup mix, graham crackers and Velveeta cheese. Being a Southern cook, she was dubious of the Velveeta. Is it cheese? Is it not?
While she was en route, the US team already in the UK was procuring a turkey. In the US, we would go to the grocery store and pick out a nice bird. In UK, however, the turkeys aren’t in the grocery stores until Christmas. As a result, the US team was sent in the direction of an English farm to pick out the bird. Being the astute Americans that they were, the first question to the farmer was “how will the bird come prepared?” Answer: “It would be on a lead”.
At this point let us note that now we can truly say that we are thankful for the time in history that we live in. Thank you for refrigeration and prepared meat!
In the meantime, Lynn landed in the UK and went through customs. Panic ensued as she noticed big signs all over the customs area “NO CHEESE”. Would the Velveeta be admitted to the country? After a quick prayer (“Please God, save our Thanksgiving”), she got the Velveeta out of the suitcase and declared it to the authorities, took a deep breath, and walked through customs. She was stopped and asked about the cheese and instead of the getting tossed in the trash, the customs agent approved for her to keep it, declaring that “Velveeta cheese is not real cheese.”
Thank you, God, for Velveeta cheese not being real cheese, and avoiding an International Cheese Incident.
After landing and customs, Lynn was off to meet up with her friend and flat-mate Sheree, all while trying to adjust to the new time zone. After a night of sleep and a day of work, the next grand adventure ensued: “English Grocery Store”. Beyond the unfamiliarity of ingredients and flavors, the biggest hurdle is the measurement conversion. As reference, 227 grams is about 8 ounces.
As is true to the US tradition, there were trips to the grocery store at least once every day that week, picking up the last minute things or compensating for wrong measurement conversions.
Speaking of conversion, another sneaky roadblock was the Celsius temperature on the oven. More prayers ensued (“Thank you, God, for the internet and conversion charts”). Pies were baked and looked pretty good, and was time to move on to casseroles. Sheree and Lynn were contributing broccoli, cheese and rice casserole, corn casserole and macaroni and cheese. Another American was in charge of the Turkey (thankfully NOT on a lead). Yet another American also managed to figure out how to get the NFL football game on the TV, as well as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
A few Brits were invited to share the meal to introduce them to what they have missed by living on the other side of the pond. In retrospect, it’s not clear they’d say they “missed” anything!
Final casserole prep ensued, and Sheree and Lynn went back to the flat to put together the last casserole for the evening and bake everything. Another surprise discovery was that British can openers don’t necessarily work on US canned goods. In the battle for Canned Creamed Corn, it was a dirty fight, but the final points went to the Americans.
But then it happened, the incident that will know forever be known as the “Broccoli Incident of ’06”. Lynn was put in charge of carrying the broccoli casserole down the stairs to the flat where the gathering was to be had. The gauntlet was thus: one set of stairs, two doors and the casserole was hot covered in tin foil. After declining offers of help with carrying it, famous last words were uttered: “No, I’ll be okay”.
After successfully navigating the stairs, the door was next. Lynn opened the door and it pulled toward her. Cue the slow motion: the casserole tipped out of her hand and fell to the newly carpeted floor.
Being the sound minded and very logical person that she is, Lynn left the mangled casserole on the floor to fend for itself, mingling with the carpet, and ran up the stairs, yelling “Sheree, help I dropped the casserole!”
Yes, the precious casserole that they had to sneak ingredients into the country for, the casserole that we needed a Masters Degree in math to cook, is a casserole that now lay on the floor. As soon as the Americans assembled to help with the precious casserole, they stared at the fallen dish.
And then, with impeccable timing, the Brits arrived.
The British guests, being unfamiliar with American traditions, wondered if this was part of the celebration, some sort of uppity post-colonial statement of excess whereby perfectly good food is thrown on the floor like so many victory spikes of the proverbial Thanksgiving football.
You may ask if the casserole was served. Yes, yes it was. Part of it was on the tin foil and most didn’t leave the dish, but the bits that touched the carpet didn’t get served.
And thus, combined with the Velveeta colored fabric in this quilt, is the story of the Velveeta Cheese Is Not Real Cheese quilt.