Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey tales

Pride goeth before a fall.

It began with the turkey. The turkey had to be better this year!

I went to the market on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and bypassed the frozen turkeys in favor of a fresh one, a nice little 13-pounder. I have trouble getting frozen turkeys defrosted in time, no matter how soon I put them in the fridge. So this year would be different. The turkey would be fresh.

If I noticed the words organic and free-range, they failed to register.

Until I got to the register, I mean. Imagine the deer-in-the-headlights look on my face when that turkey rang up at $41.11. I stared blankly at the bored, gum-snapping teenage cashier. How could I admit to her that I wanted to trade in my organic and free-range turkey, unpolluted by antibiotics, used to the happy, carefree life outside the coop, for a deep-frozen, overfed lump of turkey which would end up, even after days of defrosting, in my sink on Thanksgiving morning with me cursing at it?

Naturally, I lacked the nerve to trade in the bird. Once in the car, I hurriedly peeled the price label off. Whew! What J. doesn't know wouldn't hurt him.

On Thanksgiving Day, I roasted the bird just as I normally would. All seemed well. Before dinner, I carved the breast meat: nice and juicy and tender. Then I went for the drumsticks -- J.'s favorite.

They wouldn't detach from the bird. I got out my electric knife, and ground away at them, the blade singing loudly on the bone. I pulled and tugged with my carving fork. I grabbed hold of one leg and twisted viciously. Nope. They weren't going anywhere.

"Where are my drumsticks?" J. asked, as he sat down. I had to admit I couldn't get them loose.

"What's wrong with this turkey?" he asked from the kitchen. "Are you sure you cooked it long enough? The legs don't want to come off."

In the end he got one loose, with a loud snap.

At the table, as the rest of us enjoyed the tender white meat, J. looked like that painting of Henry VIII, while tearing at the drumstick with his teeth. And glaring. Glaring at me. "I've never had a turkey this tough," he sulked.

After dinner, J.'s habit is to carve up the rest of the turkey, so we can dispose of the carcass, while I rest in the living room from my labors. "The meat doesn't want to come off," he yelled. "Why is this giving me such a hard time?"

"I don't know," I yelled back. It must have built up its muscles running on the free-range. You know, where the deer and the antelope play.

"Please don't buy a turkey like this again," he shouted.

Trust me.

1 comment:

Jan said...

And all those expectations for perfection! I'm so sorry, but will heed your advice.

We had Thanksgiving for the first time at my son and his wife's home. They've been married for two years. She was so sure that a fried turkey from Popeye's would be wonderful and ordered that. Somehow it was dried up when we got it, so that was very disappointing.

All these make for good stories.