Wednesday, November 18, 2009

For the Birds...

Thanksgiving. Next to Halloween is about my favorite holiday. There's no pressure for gifts, it hasn't been ridiculously over commercialized and [with my family scattered all over the place] I always spend it with some truly loved friends so there is no crazy travel. The only problem is that I'm a vegetarian.

Actually, that's not the problem. The problem is the stupid bird.

I wasn't always a vegetarian, so I have sampled the seasonal foul on many occasions. Actually, strike that. I became a vegetarian when I was 19 so I sample the bird (I imagine I didn't get a drumstick my first year) 17 times. And that should illustrate part of the problem.

Turkey simply isn't great. It's the other, other, other white meat. It's a dry, stringy, tasteless excuse for a meat that the entire nation looses sleep over annually as they suffer to create what at best will become a mildly savory meal if doused with enough gravy and filled with secret family stuffing (stove-top) recipes.

Sure, many of you right now are prepared to argue the quality of the bird your mother, or grandmother or husband or that weird guy down the block who mutters to himself and dresses in bunny slippers, cooks. I come from a long line of turkey aficionados. I've had bacon wrapped turkey, deep fried turkey, brined turkey, BBQ turkey. Turkey in a bag, basted turkey, roast turkey... you name it, someone in my family has done it to a bird. And the result, each year is about the same.

Before you even begin to argue, can you please remind me of the great restaurant that has created a signature turkey dinner entree that they offer year round? Or that chef in France or Italy or where ever that is working on their own interpretation of the classic America turkey dinner. Ever have turkey for Easter? And how come so much of the bird is left over for sandwiches the next day, and the day after that and the day after that...

Because turkey isn't that good. I'm sorry, it just isn't. What it is is drugged. Tryptophan! Yeah, it makes you sleepy. Even know ing that, parents haven't started feeding it to their children on a regular basis. Hmmm. And yet, every year we all must endure the pressure, the worry, the panic and fretting over the turkey.

It's the side dishes that make the meal. Stuffing, good stuffing. Mushroom gravy, roasted vegetables, yams and sweet potatoes (they aren't the same thing), mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, caramelized onions and bottle after bottle of wine.

Then there are the deserts. Pies; apple, pumpkin, pecan, berry... and cakes and cookies and ice cream and chocolate and more wine.

So, when will we all stop stressing about that stupid bird and just sit down and enjoy a good meal. Do a nice ham maybe, or a big salmon or even tofu?

OK, maybe I'll never sell anyone on tofu. Well... one person but she loves it already.

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