NOV. 19 2007
The Thanksgiving turkey is a perfect metaphor for the way you inevitably feel after indulging in America’s No. 1 feast: like someone covered you with butter and rammed some starch up your ass. Too bad the Pilgrims couldn’t order Chinese takeout. Of course, the turkey the Pilgrims brought to the table was a far cry from the force-fed, ’roid raging superbirds of today. Old timey turkeys were leaner, ropier, and maybe even slightly smarter than their contemporary counterparts who, rumor has it, don’t need much more than a brain stem and an open feed hole to subsist. Pilgrim birds were hardly veal grade. You can imagine that after spending a few hours picking blunderbuss birdshot out of a stringy turkey carcass, Squanto probably just threw up his hands and said, “Who wants popcorn?” After all, if you’re going to crack your teeth on something, it might as well be organic, right? Turkeys are good for headdresses and feather dusters and making silly noises for hillbillies to imitate, but as far as flavor goes, you won’t see turkey bumping filet mignon off menus anytime soon. Admit it. The very best turkey – even when it is most succulent, be it deep-fried Cajun style, hickory smoked or honey glazed – is never much better than an average cheeseburger. That is why you never see fast-food restaurants with names like Butterball Tom’s Turkey and Stuffing House or Triptophantastic Turkeys To Go. Yawn. Yo quiero Taco Bell! And yet, even though turkey is remarkably bland, it does have a certain gustatory je ne sais quoi that precludes its inclusion in other dishes. Sure, there’s turkey tetrazzini and turkey chili and turkey burgers, but the word “turkey” appended to the front of those dishes serves as a functional disclaimer that says, “this won’t taste like it normally does.” Even though it has feathers, a beak, a wattle, and claws like a chicken, turkey never tastes like a chicken, which is amazing considering that damn near everything tastes like chicken if you cook it right. This doesn’t make turkey bad, it just makes it both unique and unremarkable at the same time. That kind of zen essence is not an easy thing to pull off, which is just another reason the turkey is the perfect centerpiece for America’s yearly homage to gluttony. So go ahead, shovel it down and stretch your gut, you have the other 364 days of the year to titillate your tastebuds. When you’re done, loosen up that belt another notch or two and waddle on down to the Continental Club where Wayne “the Train” Hancock is hosting his annual “Dance Yer Stuffing Off” Turkey Trot. Starting at 9, Wayne will be belting out his original blend of “Honky Tonk, Western Swing, Blues and Big Band” that should work you into a big, steaming butterball. Hawt!