It’s Just a Turkey …

It’s Just a Turkey …

Sigh. Every year. The endless parade of newspaper and magazine articles, the FoodTV episodes, the endless parade of drek from the media implying that cooking Thanksgiving dinner is on par with neurosurgery, wing walking, base jumping.

It’s just a turkey. Thaw it and roast it — make a few side dishes, call the people you love and gather them around your table. That’s it. Doesn’t have to be good china, doesn’t have to be 14 dishes, doesn’t even have to be 14 people — just cook something and invite people to share it with you.

Now granted, I learned to cook a turkey when I was about 10, and we had no money after my parents’ divorce and my mother fed us on turkey for a couple of winters. A turkey will keep a family of three, even with two ravenous pre-teens, afloat for a week, easy. Roast turkey, turkey sandwiches, turkey-noodle-casserole, and finally, the dreaded turkey soup. As a result, I am not always a big fan of the turkey, unlike my Beloved, who loves turkey above all other meats.

I guess my main point is the thing that bugs me is the way the Food Industry uses the annual holiday to reinforce the idea that Cooking Is Hard, and that Cooking Is Drudgery and that You Can Do It Wrong if you aren’t led by the nose by the authorities.

Go to town people. Have some fun. Cook stuff you like this year instead of the stuff you think you’re supposed to love. If you like to experiment, try a new recipe — we still laugh at the year my dad and my stepmother tried this baroque recipe where the turkey was coated in a thick paste of spices and a flour slurry — the paste coating burned — black black black. And then it wouldn’t come off — we wound up chipping it off in teeny little pieces, with most of the skin still attached, which was okay because the skin was all flabby and icky under the paste. It was hilarious. It was sort of horrible, but it was hilarious …

So readers — cough it up — what’s your best Thanksgiving cooking story? Either triumph or tragedy —

2 thoughts on “It’s Just a Turkey …

  1. When my kids were 4 and 2, my husband and I hosted our very first Thanksgiving. We had exactly one guest: my husband’s older brother. We wanted to serve cornish game hens, thinking that they’d cook a lot faster;and since they’re small we got one for each person — even the 2 year old! who had pneumonia at that time! We ate cornish game hen for a MONTH! Best part of that holiday was the drink we served to the kids: sparkling apple cider with mini marshmallows in it. They thought they’d gone to heaven : )

  2. Christmas dinner with turkey and all the trimmings is the big deal here. And the fuss that’s made of it all! I thought I was doing something wrong because I simply cooked the turkey as if it were just a big chicken, albeit wrapped in bacon and stuffed with pork meat and herbs. But I couldn’t understand why it was meant to be such an ordeal to cook a turkey for Christmas.

    I remember my mother tied to the stove endless worrying about the turkey all morning and much of the afternoon on Christmas Day. It was like she was splitting atoms in the confines of the kitchen, or performing brain surgery. Me, I preferred to spend my time playing with the kids while the turkey cooked.

    It’s media hype, they make such a fuss about it, they charge almost £50 for a good turkey, they sell the Happy Family Christmas thing and as a result they ruin what should be simply a day spent with family and friends having fun

    A few years ago we abandoned the expensive turkey in favour of a good organic chicken and sent the money we saved to Africa where it bought chickens for a family who needed them far more than we needed that turkey. That’s the best Christmas tradition we ever established in my opinion

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