C’mon … gobble gobble … gimme a break

Published 4:30 pm Saturday, November 17, 2018

In general, we Americans do not prepare an entire animal for a single meal. For example, we shy away from serving a whole cow, pig, goat or sheep on a platter.  And yet, we prepare … and eat … an entire 30 lb.turkey on Thanksgiving. Did you ever think about that?  I suppose the reasoning is that a turkey is much simpler—and a whole lot lighter on the table legs.  And besides, if we served a cow, there’d be no place for us at our own table!

I suppose it’s a good thing the pilgrims settled on turkeys.  They had other options, you know—badgers, raccoons, oppossums—and for smaller family groups—squirrels and chipmunks.  I personally am glad their woodland creature-of-choice was the turkey.  It’s more refined.  Somehow I just can’t see us holding out our dinner plates and saying, “May I please have another piece of badger.” But let’s not be hasty or prejudicial.  Just because badger has “bad” in its name doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all bad, you know.  So, okay, let’s change it.  How about, “May I please have another piece of goodger?”  Now, is that better?

It is safe to say that  Americans prepare the turkey the same way year after year. It’s what the family is counting on.  But, think about it.  A roasted turkey could easily be enhanced in a myriad of new invigorating ways.  Imagine slicing it open in front of the whole family to find a pearl inside the chest cavity … or a cornish hen nestled in there … or how about a Spam loaf!   Think of the element of surprise!  But, no, we’d never do that. Instead we set our adventurous spirits aside and continue to fill up our turkeys with stuffing.

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What is stuffing anyway?

Stuffing is … well, stuffing. That’s what you do.  Stuff the cavities with a whole bunch of sodden bread chunks mixed together with spices and veggies. Quite honestly, though, can’t we do better?  One would think that with Thanksgiving being so all fired important to us that one of the main features would be more attractive.  Stuffing is not gorgeous.  If we’re really honest with our descriptions, stuffing looks like it has already been chewed.  Why not replace it with something more appealing; something with more zing? I suggest lime jello stuffing or fudge brownie stuffing or Fruit Loops.  Would that be asking too much?  Actually, if I had a preference, I’d stuff my turkey with roast beef.

One cool thing about turkey is that its meat comes in light and dark—like chocolate and vanilla.  It makes me wonder what zebra meat looks like?  And does a slice of giraffe have spots on it? If I could redesign turkeys, I’d make their light and dark more even.  And I’d certainly give them bigger heads.  They’re out of proportion to their bodies and make them look unsmart which makes me realize that I’ve never heard anyone brag about turkeys’ intelligence.  Have you?  It’s not as if “Gobble” translates as “Google,” you know.

Actually, it is a fact that today’s factory turkeys have brains about one-third the size of wild turkeys.  They also have chronic foot and leg problems because they’re too fat to fly.  Wild turkeys, on the other hand, have been clocked at 55 mph. while dodging trees! This makes our Thanksgiving turkeys’ wings … like wisdom teeth … superfluous.  They’re useless appendages and if we continue to scientifically reconfigure them, will undoubtedly in time, disappear.  It’s not as if the whole family squabbles over who gets the wings, anyway, if you know what I mean. 

In 1965, an average Thanksgiving turkey weighed 18 pounds. Now an average is 33 pounds.  It’s their breasts, you see; they’re all out of proportion, making them unable to breed naturally and thereby requiring that all females be artificially inseminated.  A moment of reverent silence, please, for what our holiday appetities have done to this poor bird.

Turkeys are not known to be complainers. Do they care what we’re doing?  We don’t know. But then none of us knows for sure just what a rafter of burbling, gobbling turkeys is saying.  What if it’s … enough of the bread stuffing. For Pete’s sake, fill me with a good old Lutheran tuna and tater tot casserole, pul-eeeze!”

In all fairness,  I must admit to a personal distaste for the turkey snood … you know, that red thing that looks like congealed foam insulation that hangs over its beak.  It’s simply unlovely.  Girl turkeys seem to like boy turkeys’ snoods, however, once again telling us there’s no explaining turkey taste.  Then there are the wattles, those two poochy things that hang off the sides of their beaks. Wattles do not win beauty contests. If truth be told, I know some people who have them.  They do not hold beauty titles either.

I have really strong mixed emotions over turkey organs.  The neck is simply too disagreeable to discuss, whereas the heart, gizzard and liver leave me reeling.  I would have to say that the gizzard is the worst.  Just the sound of it makes me cringe. Must be those zz’s.  Now, if they renamed it the “cream puff” or the “dumpling,” I would definitely reconsider.  Just proves the power of the alphabet.

What do you suppose dead turkey feet are used for?  Back scratchers?

Somehow it doesn’t seem fair what we do to turkeys without first getting their approval.  We should give them a break.  We don’t even respect their epidermis as we do cow hide or pig skin which we use for all manner of things.  Still I’d have to agree that there would be problems at the Super Bowl with a football covered in feathers.

I suggest we carry on with our Thanksgivings as usual.  Turkey it is, forevermore!  And as for their onomatopedic “gobble gobbles,” I’m hazarding a guess that what the turkeys really are saying is, “Eat more goodger!”