Friday, December 16, 2011

Food Friday: Why I Don't Play With Turkeys

The holiday season is upon us--or rather it continues to be upon us. Everybody has their own special holiday dinner--for some it's ham, for others it's cornish hen, but for most, it's turkey.

Folks--I don't play with turkeys.

Let me explain.

I'm one of those people with absolutely weird hangups. I'll admit it freely. I don't like to touch silverware unless I'm using it to eat, doesn't matter whether it's clean or not. Anything with a numerical volume, I have to have on an increment of five. And most importantly, at least for the purposes of this blog, I really don't like to touch raw meat. I mean, I can do it for short periods of time--but there's a reason I don't really do meals like meat loaf or even hamburgers. I don't like raw meat on my hands.

You might begin to see part of what the problem with a turkey is.

Still, about three years ago, I decided that it was time to host Thanksgiving for my family at my place. It'd be a small crowd--no more than about ten--and i decided it was past time to get over my childish disgust with raw meat. So I bought the turkey, discusssed cooking and everything with my mom, and proceeded to begin the time honored tradition of turkey roasting.

Small problem: I couldn't find the innard bag.

I rooted around inside the body cavity for a good ten minutes. Ran water through, flushed it from both ends. Nothing. I could not find the damn bag. Now, part of me wanted to just let it go: "Hey, maybe I got lucky and they just forgot it." But I knew, with the sixth sense of disaster prone people, that this was just asking for trouble.

So I did what every desperate cook throughout history has done: I called my mother.

Of course, she didn't believe me. She knows about my little idiosyncracy, and while she finds it amusing, she also things I tend to exaggerate. Which I do, but not about raw meat. So after a good ten minutes on the phone, with her talking me through where I should be looking, she finally just tells me to hold on and she'll be over in a few minutes.

Yes. Twenty-six years old, I have to get my mother to come help me with a turkey. And I feel no shame about this. Nonewhatsoever.

Upon her arrival, she washes her hands, examines the turkey, and with the ease of someone who does NOT have a raw meat hatred, shoved her hand right in. After ten minutes or so, she looks at me and says, "It's not in here."

Really. You don't say.

She keeps looking, although at this point she's just as puzzled as I am. Finally, she starts peeling the skin back, not off, just back, and begins looking under there. And lo and behold, she finds the damn bag. She proceeds to tell me that in all her years of turkey cooking, she's never had that happen.

Fabulous.

The turkey ended up coming out just fine, well enough that I convinced myself it was a one time fluke. So the next year when I had a Thanksgiving party/dinner for people at work who couldn't get home for the holiday, I not only volunteered to host, but to make the turkey.

I found the innard bag on the first try this time. Unfortunately, the bag broke in my hand. Liver, gizzards, and other things I don't want to think about flooded my palm, slithered down the garbage disposal. When I called my mother in hysterics, yes, hysterics, she told me that, again, she'd never had that happen.

Clearly, I'm cursed.

So I don't do turkey for holidays anymore. I do a nice, presliced ham, with a cajun brown sugar glaze. I leave the turkey for the experts.

And the people who don't mind their hands in raw meat.

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