It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like….Thanksgiving

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It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and once again I’ll be cooking the turkey. My wife who is European-born says she has no family history with turkey and has used this excuse for more than 25 years to beg off the bird. Frankly, it’s wearing a little thin.

I love this photo above which, though it’s clearly a Christmas scene, evokes a certain Eisenhower era, Leave-it-to-Beaver sensibility. You may not believe this (especially if you’re under the age of forty) but there were once celebratory times when people actually came to a big family dinner dressed like this. The women were resplendent in pearls. The men had jackets. I have photos of myself as a child at such occasions looking extraordinarily spiffy in a little cardigan and necktie.

And these days ? These days you’re lucky if someone pulls off their ball cap or ties the drawstring on their sweats.

Back to Thanksgiving. The Canadian holiday has one big advantage over the counterpart south of the border. We put a two month buffer between ours and Christmas. Our American cousins are just finishing turkey leftovers when suddenly they have to do it all over again. But, all things considered, I have always thought the U.S. celebration had a lot more cachet. There’s the Pilgrims and the Mayflower. There’s the Macy’s parade in New York. And there’s football…big, meaningful games that can be watched after dinner from the comfort of a recliner-rocker with the belt let way, way out.

turkeyCooking a holiday meal is a lot of work. There’s a ton of preparation and the timing has to be right.  The only spontaneous fun in the whole process for me is looking for the giblets.

If you buy a grade A turkey you’re supposed to get giblets. If you buy anything else it’s a crapshoot. You might get giblets, you might not. I’ve seen labels on birds that read: Giblets may be Missing.  Someone’s hedging their bet. In the poultry trade this mysterious scenario is known as a ‘ wog ‘..which stands for ‘ without giblets ‘.

In any event, you never get the organs that actually came out of that particular bird..but, really, who cares?  This is food not forensics. I use the giblets (which consists of the liver, the gizzard and the heart) to flavour the gravy stock.

If you hit the street and ask people about giblets you will discover a sea of misinformation. Just about everyone knows that there’s supposed to be a liver in the package. Damn few people know anything about the gizzard. People have told me that the lungs are part of the giblets..or the brains!

Turkeys, though undeniably delicious, are not the brightest birds on the planet. I have been in a commercial slaughterhouse and the turkeys are always the last ones to know what’s going on. If turkey brains were ever to make it into the giblet medley, it would be a very small contribution indeed.

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Happy Thanksgiving,



2 Responses to “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like….Thanksgiving”

  1. Grant Bowen Says:

    Wild turkeys are much brighter. They’ve been re-introduced to parts of Ontario. Around my cottage in south Muskoka they are often heard gobbling away. But you almost never see them unless it is at the far end of a farmer’s field. There’s an open season on them and they’re smart enough to avoid humans

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