Current Magazine

Thanksgiving: Not Just About Turkeys

Posted on the 24 November 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Thanksgiving: Not just about turkeys

A turkey. Feeling a bit worried perhaps? Photocredit:

It’s Thanksgiving. The American holiday was, according to legend, instituted by the settlers of the Plymouth colony, in gratitude to God for a good harvest in cooperation with the local Wampanoag Indians. So how is it going down in the America of today?

Bad Christmas creep! It’s in danger of becoming just a day to take off work and eat a huge meal, said Enterprise News. We shouldn’t forget its beginnings – despite “Christmas creep”.

Its true meaning can still apply. Will Boast in The New York Times said that staying with his girlfriend’s family at Thanksgiving automatically made him “aloof and grouchy.” An emigrant from the South of England, his family celebrated Thanksgiving as a symbol of their endurance. But for him the day was associated with tragedy – his mother, terminally ill from brain cancer; his brother, killed in a car accident; his father, drinking himself to death. The Plymouth settlers repaid their hosts with “mistrust, disease and war.” But, after his girlfriend’s family took him in, he realised that it was time to come to terms with his past, and “start calling this new world ‘home.’”

No turducken for me, thanks. And there’s economic gloom, too, said Michelle Slatalla in the LA Times; recently moved to New York, she calls herself a “Dumpy” – a downwardly mobile professional. Whilst she might not be cooking a “turducken” (ignore the unfortunate prefix, says Periscope: it’s a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken), she thinks that at least the world is better than it was in the Middle Ages. We don’t have to touch “smelly dead fish” every time we want to fertilise corn, for a start, or lance boils off our feet. This year she’ll be eschewing the complicated recipes, and doing a good old Simple Turkey – and be thankful for the “miracle” that everyone she loves is alive.

“Though a little vain and silly,” Benjamin Franklin wrote to his daughter in 1784, “[the turkey] would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on.” (Quoted in The Guardian)

Poor, misunderstood creature. As Americans prepare to consume around 46 million turkeys, The Guardian stepped in to praise the bird. It’s seen widely as a “dull slab of protein”, unloved “as food”, and “picked on for its looks.” A turkey is even a name for something “duff.” This is all wrong – its dryness is usually only because it’s been overcooked. It’s also America’s “first major export to the rest of the world.” It was almost America’s national bird. “Brave, homely and self-effacing at mealtimes, the turkey makes a suitably generous creature for this season.”

Superturkey! Joel Achenbach raved about his “superturkey” in The Washington Post – it’s not just “food with a face”, it’s “a turkey that had its own coat of arms.” Even brining a turkey is “fraught with tension” – there’s so much to worry about – for instance, is your fridge kosher? He didn’t “spatchcock” the turkey, though, even though he likes to boast about it when he does it. (Spatchcocked. Nice word, thinks Periscope.)

More on thanksgiving

  • Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is perfect Thanksgiving fare
  • Rush hates on Native Americans and other Thanksgiving cheer

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog