Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Celebrating by Fasting Would be a Lot Easier

A friend of mine is planning on hunting a wild turkey for his Thanksgiving celebration this year. Previous to this point, the only wild turkey he hunted was found in a liquor store. Yet despite the fact that he has more of a chance catching a cold than a bird, the idea of Thanksgiving compels him to become more engaged with his food. It seems to compel a lot of people. Compel them to care more about the food they are eating I mean, not shoot animals.

Thanksgiving is probably the most food centric of our holidays. It is also the one where "store bought convenience" is frowned upon. Or at least it was in my family. You work for a Thanksgiving meal. As a kid, I'd wake up at 8 AM to the smell of a turkey in the oven and the sound knives tapping on cutting boards. My parents' eyes were bloodshot and they looked anything but cheerful to have been up since five dealing with raw poultry (which isn't pleasant even at the best of times let alone before coffee), but the process of making the food was an important ritual that could not be ignored. No matter how much you didn't want to do it.

You didn't bring a tub of instant mashed potatoes to Thanksgiving dinner. You'd peel, boil, and mash them yourself. The green bean casserole tastes the same year in, year out because it was someone's grandmother's recipe and it was not to be tinkered with. Yes, you could bring a can of cranberry sauce, but no one was going to eat that nasty stuff anyways, so it was irrelevant where it came from. As you can tell, the above fare, while traditional, is not all that inventive or, well, flavorful. That's what salt and pepper are for.

The turkey was the one place where tradition was thrown to the wind. Every year someone would do something different to try to make it better or more interesting. Roasted, smoked, deep fried, and bacon wrapped, we tried everything. Oddly enough, the deep fried turkey was probably the most successful. It was also the most dangerous if you weren't paying attention to water displacement or basic safety precautions.

So with all that in mind, I'm off to go out into the wild and bag my own 20 pounder tonight. But being a vegetarian, that just requires finding a really big pumpkin to turn into stew... and luckily my neighbor's been growing one I've had my eye on for a while. I suppose that makes me less of a hunter and more of a poacher.
posted by jw