Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving Detox

Thanks to paper plates and giblets wrapped in paper, Thanksgiving at my house went off with relative smoothness.

Late the night before, while I prepared the turkey to soak overnight in salt water brine, I did not have high hopes for such a pleasant result. As I stuffed my hand in the main turkey cavity in much the same way I search, blindly, for my glasses if they accidentally fall off the nightstand, I came upon what I presumed to be the neck. It was frozen to the rest of the turkey, which was strange when you consider that the turkey I so carefully selected and paid for was labeled "fresh." Why the inside of my fresh turkey was a flaking ice cube is beyond me.

At any rate, I pulled on the neck. It wouldn't budge. Then I pulled some more. It still wouldn't move. Knowing nothing about turkeys, I wondered if was still attached to the spine, or something. Then suddenly it gave. I started, and then I screamed. I screamed so loud that one would have thought the gates of Hell opened and unleashed upon me the Ghosts-Of-Junior-High-School-Gym-Classes-Past. The Boss, who was situated behind me in a saucer, did not know what to make of it. So she started screaming, too. She was inconsolable for the better part of ten minutes. Her father patted her back and she bawled over his shoulder while I stood over the sink, my gloved hands clutching a long, frozen neck.

I thought about the way parents are not supposed to show fear. They are supposed to be a safe haven for their children. I wondered how that worked, exactly. It wasn't all that long ago that I was a child myself. When was I supposed to become fearless? When was I supposed to get myself together, reining in all the ragged ends of my dramatic and spastic (one of my friend's coined it "dramastic") personality? My daughter is 16 months old now and I show no signs of changing. Have I doomed her to a life of uncertainty and trepidation?

At any rate, she got over it. I bagged the neck and stuffed it into the freezer for my mom to take home, then I dumped my 20-pounder into the brine and called it a night. I wondered if I wasn't possibly forgetting something, but I didn't care enough to ponder the question too deeply.

At Thanksgiving dinner the next day, as my mother helped my husband carve a turkey I am proud to say was as moist and flavorful as I could've hoped, she peered curiously into the bird. "What's this?" She poked around with the electric knife, then she tried to stifle her grin. "I think you missed something."

"Oh, no," I said, the reality of my ignorance becoming clear. "It's the giblets, isn't it? I didn't take out the giblets."

She held out a paper-wrapped package of innards. "Yes,these are the giblets."

What I've been saying all along--which is that I know nothing about cooking a turkey--is no exaggeration. It's not that I forgot to remove the giblets. It's that I didn't know where the giblets were. When the neck popped out in a frozen mass the night before, I just assumed the giblets were included. It was easier to make that assumption than it would've been to violate another of that poor bird's orifices.

"Well, at least they were wrapped in paper," my mom said.

"That's for sure!" chortled my mother-in-law. "If they were wrapped in plastic, that turkey would've been toxic!"

I had to laugh, too. I mean, how could I not? As we all filled our plates and clinked wine glasses in thanks, I was already fat and happy with perspective. I was grateful for our large and ever-growing family, all present and accounted for; for our table full of food; and, of course, for giblets wrapped the old fashioned way.

12 comments:

Lauren said...

Of course this has to remind you of "A Christmas Story" when they go out to eat Christmas dinner at a chinese restaurant where people sing "Fa RA RA RA RAAAAAAAA", and discover that their turkey has a huge long neck and head. And the dad goes, "It's, it's smiling at me" and the china man goes "ohhhh, yes" and meat cleavers the head off.

Wish you caught your denecking on film. That reaction must've been priceless.

ECR said...

Actually, Lauren, we do have it on video. I think Chris knew something interesting was bound to happen :) You'll have to come over and watch it!

Kate said...

Even with leaving the giblets in the turkey, I can safely say that you know much more than me about cooking. Hell, I wouldn't have known a giblet from a neck from a wing. I'm blessed with a husband who's the cook :)

Wendy said...

This is why I leave the cooking of the turkey to someone else. I am not sticking my hand up anyone or thing's butt. I dont even buy whole chickens. Even better is to get a cooked stuffed turkey (stuffed with crawfish dressing, OMG) from the butcher.

Your screaming reminds me of when I get a lizard in the house (every summer). I scream as if it has jumped on me and started to violate me. My daughter (4 years old) would get all upset, now she just sips her milk and says, "Mama it is just a lizard." So, I dont think you have scarred your baby. She will just come to expect it whenever she sees the turkey.

Heather said...

It's best for children to learn of the dangers of turkey necks at an early age...

;)

Lauren said...

Word. I'm there. :)

binkytown said...

Its not a real thanksgiving unless someone forgets something- right? Same thing happened to us the first time we, actually, he, made a turkey.

jen said...

i kept having this weird assumption that your glasses were going to end up inside the turkey on accident. i am a weirdo.

about the other - i think it is critical that we teach our kids how to express real emotions. we can't have it all together all the time, because then we aren't teaching them a damn thing (my humble, overly stuffed opinion)

Mary-LUE said...

E,
The Thanksgiving sounds lovely and a funny story like that is always good for the future years story-telling.

T. said...

Alright, Binky, I admit to snorting my coffee when I read how the neck attacked your hand. Those damn frozen necks, not only creepy looking, can be down right fearful. Just think of the holiday trauma your daughter suffered watching mommy's hand being eaten by a big dead bird...

And this post is the reason I refuse to cook a bird. I did give it the ole girl scout try once, but I'm sad to say, my results were a little more bloody than yours. We ended up having to carve a half-cooked bird and microwaving the meat.

Funny thing is, no one has asked me to ever attemp the feat again...

Mrs. Chicken said...

I discovered that Mr. Chicken's gram puts giblets in her stuffing. I discovered this when it was IN MY MOUTH.

It sounds like you had a very happy day. I'm glad for you!

PeetsMom said...

Too funny! My turkey actually was fresh, not frozen and I looked for that darn bag of giblets, but lo and behold - NO GIBLETS, just that awful neck!