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'Real Housewives of New Jersey' recap: Meet it before you eat it

June 7, 2011 |  9:04 am

It took all my energy not to title this "Real Housewives of New Jersey" dispatch “Talkin’ turkey." But I realized that: a) my first titles are generally to be discarded and, b) more important, the Thanksgiving meals themselves figured precious little in this episode. Instead, preprandial encounters with live animals, both human and bestial, made the hourlong episode a veritable zoo.

It’s Thanksgiving in Wayne, N.J., which, as fires rage across the West and 90-degrees-and-climbing temperatures sweep across the Northeast, makes all that meat-and-pie eating a little quease-inducing for Bravo viewers. Still, there was plenty of live flesh to cringe over as Turkey Day preparations ensued -- and I’m not even talking about all the one-shoulder gowns the Housewives kept sporting.

First, we watched Teresa and Joe Giudice hit the SUV to drive endlessly in circles until they conquered traffic to reach their local turkey farm, where the noted cookbook author pointed to a few chickens roasting on a spit with trepidation. (“Are those…?” Why, no, ma’am, those are the stunt chickens we got at Safeway!) This led to Joe’s stunning revelation that they don’t even celebrate Thanksgiving in Italy, which seemed a novel insight to the foodie of the house as well.

Next, Kathy shared her baking skills and travails with us, declaring that she was on par with anyone baking in the kitchen, if not, as of yet, in viewer interest. When you create a foot-long raft of cannoli with two dozen mini-cannoli emerging from it looking like they are trying desperately to scramble on board, you’re just giving your audience some insight into your subconscious state between episodes of “In Treatment.” (Note: Kathy still threw in an emotional mention of Caroline Manzo to lock down an appearance in HER one-shoulder gown.)

But the most uncomforable visit was the Manzos to their future in-laws, who run an upscale butchery someplace “rural.” (Which is to say, at least 20 minutes from the nearest Home Depot.) Here, the Manzos immediately launched into overcompensating for the enormous class conflict between the two couples, since between those who cure meat in rural outposts and those who serve it to bespangled nouveau riche in the suburbs, never the twain shall meet.

Sir Manzo, it seemed, felt the divide most keenly, turning to the children to try to bridge the gap with his fellow patriarch, his wife’s Gucci purse winking like Daisy’s green light across the dangling pepperoni. “I mean, I’m rich, but you and I didn’t grow up like that,” Manzo parried. Nod. “I mean, we had everything we needed, and that was enough.” Unreadable nod. “I don’t think my children would be able to handle not being rich.” Silence. “Actually I think our kids would be OK. ... I mean, look at your son! He went to Fordham, but he can still slice mortadella.” Strained, unreadable, aggressively responsive grin — though by this time it wasn’t clear if the poor gentleman simply was tired of having cameras in his store, or if he was wild to pelt the departing Manzos with some dried porcinis.

Wait. Of course I am wrong. The most squeamish incident involved the Gorgas. I blocked it out. No, it was not the whole baby pig proffered for Melissa Gorga’s inspection, nor when her husband smacked a freshly wrapped pork butt in expectant jubilation. No –- it was, you know, the MECHANICAL BULL he brought out as a surprise for his gathered family, which Kathy and Melissa were forced to ride before the family retired to eat. (I’m rethinking Kathy’s cannoli spread, and have decided that whatever Joe Gorga’s subconscious is trying to tell us is far more dire.) 

Brief detour, since we’re on the topic of giving thanks. I’m really starting to feel for poor Ashley, who visited the Manzo boys in their Hoboken spread only to yet again receive a lecture on her laziness and whininess regarding her commute. Yes, of course, she is lazy and whiny. Still, why, in a clan where men build massive houses in which the women’s biggest commute is from the sink to the kitchen island, how would Ashley EVER get the idea that commuting is beneath her? Give the kid a car — she might actually find a man whose idea of mass transit is not a mechanical bull.

But perhaps the hot-blooded clan simply needed this much carnage for both houses, over their respective tables, to reach agreement on one point: It was not nice of Teresa to throw out a pregnant Melissa's cookies. I'm a little worried about how many Safeway chickens will have to die for the next step.


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-- Lizzie Skurnick