Turkey – The Malodorous Side of Thanksgiving


As a former European, without a childhood of Thanksgivings behind me but a good number of them as an adult, I’ll start with declaring that I do like apple pie, pecan pie, and other genuinely American treats. Tasty treats that is, treats that smell and taste delicious – preferably made from scratch, not sweetened-to-death store-bought items.

Turkey on the other hand I just don’t like. It must be an acquired taste. The smell in particular is nauseating. It’s not just me. My mother (also here in the US), my wife (who is born and raised on this side of the Atlantic) – all of us don’t care for this bird. It puts the foul in fowl.

What will not be on the Kases' Thanksgiving table this year

What will not be on the Kases' Thanksgiving table this year

You can try to cover up its blandness with intricate stuffing, masquerade its dryness with dollops of sauce, add cranberry sauce for flavor. If you must have turkey, I recommend a switch to the superior lingonberry sauce (the real deal is still sold at Ikea – they mustn’t have found a cheap substitute yet) with its crisp tartness and more pronounced flavor. But fundamentally, it’s still an unappealing meal.

It’s the sweet potatoes and of course the stuffing, and all the rest of the side dishes – casseroles, cornbread, mashed potato, gratins, and desserts– that make up the table and save the meal.

The worst part though is the smell when you cook the thing. Back in the old country, my grandmother used the leftovers (offal, really) from the annual elk (known as 'moose' in the US and Canada) hunt, which she cooked for several hours to turn into dog food. That comes to mind as something smelling worse than turkey, but the official Thanksgiving bird isn’t far off. OK, that was an exaggeration; it’s not that bad.

Clearly some like the formerly feathered dish though – my stepdad for one. He is the sole reason why my mother still cooks turkey for Thanksgiving. In our house, this year we are switching to ham. It smells better, tastes better, and doesn’t stink up the house!

Yes, we’re going cold turkey on turkey – give it some thought, are you still serving it purely because of tradition? Perhaps it’s time to make the switch?

Happy turkey-free Thanksgiving!

First Voice

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