Turkey Talk

Thank God Thanksgiving is over. If I eat another carb with gravy on it I’m going to burst. And enough already with the commercials for Turkey Day with the cute cartoon turkeys being all excited about this holiday.

We have to stop making the connection between the food that we eat and the cute animal that it used to be. My daughter, our family vegetarian (every family should have one. She keeps us real, food wise), has a t-shirt that has a picture of a little chick and it says, “I’m not a McNugget.” No, you’re not, little guy. You’re a cartoon on a t-shirt.

When the kids were little they thought there were two meanings of the word chicken, sort of like “fan” of football and the “fan” that keeps us cool. There was the thing we ate for dinner 97 different ways because it was easy and cheap, and then there was Becky, the chicken at the Living Land Farm, who we visited, knew her mom and grandmother and her pet peeves. I did nothing to dispel that notion, because I didn’t want a table full of PETA Kids members at my table.

Still, you can remove yourself from the fact that you’re stabbing, carving and chewing on a dead animal all you want 364 days out of the year, but on Thanksgiving the ugly facts come home to roost (so to speak. Or not. Because they’re dead.)

First you have to go buy the turkey and listen to the guy who works in the grocery store refer to the one you’re picking out as “the bird.” “That’s a nice bird.” Please, spare me that reference. Just because you’ve got an apron with blood splattered all over it, doesn’t mean that I want to make peace with my carnivorous self right now.

Then it’s home to clean “the bird.” Because your family is so piggish, you have to buy the 20+ pound turkey, so it’s big, it fills up the whole sink, so you’ve got to get the dirty dishes out of there first. You have to rinse it off, which involves touching it, and every now and then you’ll find a feather point still stuck in the skin. (Do those go in the garbage disposal?)

Then you have to stick your hands inside and pull out all the little surprise packages that the turkey factories have so kindly included in your turkey. Let’s just get this straight: They behead and disembowel this animal and then they put the neck back in, along with some of the chosen organs, which they wrap in paper. Even though they’ll all fit just fine in the neck hole, they feel compelled to put some of them in the other end, forcing you to be turkey proctologist for a day. Without the glove.

But at least we’ve evolved enough to just throw those parts away. In my mom’s generation, she would put them in a little saucepan with some water and put them on the stove to cook. She said she chopped them up and put them in the gravy or the stuffing or something, but I don’t think she did. (And I’m kind of hoping she didn’t.) I think she kept them on the stove sort of like an amulet, warding us away from the kitchen so we wouldn’t pick off all the crispy skin from the turkey and eat the deviled eggs and radish rosettes before it was time for dinner. Someday in the evolutionary process, the neck and gizzards will no longer be in the turkey at all.

At our house, my husband carves the turkey and then I pick up the carcass and carefully put it in the garbage. I know you can boil it and make broth for turkey soup and sometimes there’s still some meat on the bones, but picking over a skeleton makes me feel more like a cave woman than I’m comfortable with.

So Thanksgiving is over and I can go back to buying chicken prepackaged, already deboned, skinned and with all the little red things removed. I know I pay extra, but it’s worth every penny.

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