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Peggy Keener: Know your turkey parts

For 81 consecutive Thanksgivings my sentiments regarding the turkey neck have not changed. I still find it alien as all get out. What was God thinking? I mean how did He go from the peacock to the turkey? And why? Was He having a bad day after creating the heavens and the Earth and just too tuckered out to care?

And then, just to prove how quirky we Americans are, we chose one of our most unsightly birds as our holiday centerpiece. Were we unconsciously trying to get rid of the turkeys by eating them all? 

Nobody I know eats the turkey neck. I don’t even know why Jennie O bothers to stuff it in the neck cavity. Why not instead put in a filleted cod? Or a prime rib roast? Or even some Vienna sausages? Jello salad?

My further suggestion would be for Jennie O. (and what does the “O” stand for, anyway?) to substitute a cupcake for the gizzard. Now, repeat after me … cupcake … gizzard. Which sounds better to you? I mean just the sound of the word tells you it’s bad news. In my way of thinking, no one should ever eat creature parts with z’s in their names. Buzzard … lizard, see what I mean? Way too risky.

I fully realize it’s not the turkey’s fault that it has such unbecoming body parts. Furthermore, I suppose that rather than criticizing him, I should be praying for him. At least, I’ll admit, he has the smarts to not bring attention to his long scrawny neck. Like when was the last time you saw a turkey wearing a necklace? A lacey collar? A strapless gown?

It seems to me that all turkey mothers ought to be required to knit very, very long turtleneck sweaters for their children and then make them wear them every day of the year no matter the temperature for the rest of their lives. That’s what I’d do if I had turkey-necked children.

And I wouldn’t stop there. As long as I am picking apart the turkey’s appearance—as if the poor dear had anything to do with it—let’s talk feet. OMG! Turkey feet!  Would it have been asking too much for the Creator to have at least designed turkey footwear? Understandably it would be tricky to come up with turkey rhinestone sling-backs, say, or turkey hiking boots, but come on. Something needs to be done about hiding those hideous toes? They’re unspeakably prehistoric. To make myself perfectly clear, I would not chum around with anyone who ate them.

I’m not done yet. What about that wattle? I know what a negative it is because I, myself, have one. Is there a wattle function? Does it aid in our digestion? Our appearance? Our dating chances? Our life expectancy? I don’t think so. Seems that the only thing it does is get blaringly noticed by undulating back and forth whenever anyone says something funny. If you don’t want folks to notice your wattle, avoid humorous people. Or if you have to pal around with them, wear a winter scarf.

Something also must be said about this. What’s with the “gobble gobble,” anyway? Just what kind of dumb talk is that? And really now, should something that says “gobble gobble” honestly be the main feature on our Thanksgiving table? Sheesh! Even “oink” has more class.

Moreover, am I to suppose that this is where the term “gobbledygook” comes from? Gibberish, just as I suspected. But to be completely honest, what most agitates my contentment is wondering what those nonsense words truly mean and why I don’t have the smarts to interpret them.  Like what if “gobble gobble” actually translates into, “If you don’t eat me, I’ll send you on an all-expense-paid, two week vacation to Hawaii?” See?

Still I can’t stop thinking about this. Wouldn’t it be the all time most perfect twist of fate if someone started making back scratchers out of turkey feet? Instant millionaire! Just imagine the titillation of being tickled by turkey talons!

I wonder if the Pilgrims used turkey feathers in their mattresses? Or as insulation in their winter coats? I don’t believe I’ve ever read about the 100 best uses for turkey feathers. Have you? And should I devote my life to discovering them?

What’s more, why is it that we call quirky people “turkeys?” Gosh, the poor bird deserves a break. Can nothing nice be said about him … besides, that is, his deliciousness? As Minnesotans, shouldn’t we be proud as punch that we raise the most turkeys in America? That 49 million of them are raised right here? It’s a major fat big deal! Just look at Paul Bunyan and all the attention he has received over the years for raising only one measly ox. And it was blue besides. Maybe we should be putting our Minnesota mouths where our Minnesota money is. Maybe, just maybe, I should stop belittling our beleaguered friend.

Every year I remember again my all time favorite Thanksgiving story. It is the true tale of the family who, knowing that their neighbors would not be going to church, asked them to pop over to their house to check on their baking turkey while they themselves did go to church. (And here we will not get into the age old debate of the Christians versus the heathens.) Unbeknownst to these kindly infidels, the morally pure rascals took out the turkey and replaced it with a Cornish hen. You can take it from there.

Can you imagine how many different turkey dressings there are in Austin, Minnesota, to say nothing of the United States of America? There must be as many variations as there are cooks. And most of us grow up yearning each Thanksgiving for our mother’s dressing no matter how old we get or how far away from Mom we live. It must be similar to that adage that claims no two snowflakes are the same. Try running that by someone as they trudge through a Minnesota snow storm. And don’t bother comparing flakes. I tried that one day and nearly smashed into a mailbox.

And since this is a Thanksgiving column, here is one student’s report on how the pilgrims got started in America. (Caution. This could be fake news.) “Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America while cursing about the Atlantic. His ships were called the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Fe. Later the pilgrims crossed the ocean. This was known as Pilgrim’s Progress. When they landed at Plymouth Rock, they were greeted by the Indians who came down the hill rolling war hoops. The Indian squabs carried cabooses which proved very fatal to them. The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers. Many people died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all of this.” So there you have it.

In closing I would like to make one more mention of the “gobble gobble” issue. Wouldn’t it be something if what those two words really mean is “Eat more tuna!”