Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Turkey Cooking 101
My turkey cooking class was a success. And by success, I mean that I didn’t pass out at any time during the instruction, and no family members (the poor, taste-testing guinea pigs) gagged on the turkey dinner that I helped prepare. I’m not entirely confident I could make one quite as tasty without my two cooking instructors (my parents) present, but I am confident that this is an experience that neither my parents nor I will soon forget. As soon as I got up on the morning before Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving Eve?), my dad told me that it was time to prep the turkey. I insisted that I first eat breakfast, by quickly making up a rule of “no touching uncooked poultry before breakfast.” He shrugged and conceded. After breakfast, he brought the turkey over to the sink and instructed me on how to remove the “stuff” inside the turkey. (By the way, I’m being gracious with the word “stuff,” which sounds much more pleasant and sterile than it actually was.) I’ll admit that I felt uncomfortable digging around in the inner cavities of a turkey I just met, but I was just following orders. The experience that followed was much messier and grosser than I imagined, and my subsequent sound effects (“Ewww!” and “Aaagh, disgusting!”) reflected this. I also noted that nowhere in my mom’s previous descriptions of turkey cooking (“You just put it in a bag and throw it in the oven!”) did she mention fumbling around with cold, uncooked turkey organs. Next, my parents told me to take out the neck of the turkey. I fished in the turkey and pulled it out, revealing quite possibly the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen or felt. I screamed and tossed it to my dad like a hot potato. My parents offered me additional instructions but I couldn’t hear them over the sounds of my own continued screams and shrieks. (By the way, it’s too bad that a casting director wasn’t on site to see it because I would have easily secured the leading role in the next horror film.) Though it was horror to me, it was all comedy to my parents. My dramatic yet authentic screams made them laugh so hard that they couldn’t speak. I started laughing, too, and we all ended up gathered around the sink, roaring with laughter, with tears streaming down our faces. After a few minutes, we collected ourselves and the class continued. And, actually, the rest of the turkey prep was mostly scream-free. I did get grossed out a few more times, especially when I realized that some of the turkey “parts” end up (on purpose!) in part of the stuffing and the gravy. I nearly committed myself to lifelong vegetarianism at that point. But, I had no recollection of any unpleasantness when I saw the perfectly golden turkey emerge from the oven on Thanksgiving Day. It was a beautiful sight. I devoured the turkey dinner (turkey, gravy, stuffing and all), and I enjoyed every morsel. I felt thankful just like I do every thanksgiving, except this time it was for the funny memories of my first turkey cooking experience - and for complete amnesia of it all while eating it.