My holiday eating has swung like a pendulum through fashions. In college, I was a vegetarian. I gave the righteous stink-eye to my family as they were tucking in to the Thanksgiving bird. That’s an animal, I said. They were like, And? So? More dark meat for us.
Later, I became interested in farm to table like everyone else, and I ordered a bird through some Amish farmer cooperative in Pennsylvania. Later, I learned from an aunt in York that the Amish don’t necessarily treat their animals better than anyone else. So forget the Amish. The thing to do was to get a Kosher turkey, so the next year I did that. It was awfully salty. The pan juices reminded me of the months I spent in Israel.
I entertained the idea of hand-raising a turkey, but in high school when I went through a dorky aquarium-fish phase, I killed guppies. Accidentally. I just forgot to clean the aquarium for a year, my mind being on other things: Chris Nagy, the cutest brown-eyed blond thing in Western Pennsylvania that I knew.
Anyway. What to do about the turkey now that I’m 40? I’m no closer to knowing. One year I brined a naked fowl in a Home Depot tub in my bathroom. I’ve thought about deep fat frying one, but you always hear stories of idiots like me burning down their houses. That’s just not worth it. So my new thing is going to other people’s houses. Arranging invites, cajoling, insinuating myself into relatives overstuffed livingroom couches by saying things like, “I’ll bring all the sides and the desserts, if you do the bird. Think about it.”
Turkey — the presentation, the taste, the golden-browness, the drama, it’s provenance raised by hand on hemp seeds by organic back-to-the-landers in Oregon – is too much anxiety for me. I’m not an alpha. I’m a beta. I’m the person who brings casseroles. That person. You know the type. I like to settle into a seat far from the carving going on at the head of the table and spoon out the mashed potatoes as the plates going around, a cog in the wheel of Thanksgiving.
Elizabeth Bastos is a WAHM (pronounced “wham!”) of two in the Baltimore suburbs. Her work has appeared on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Big Jewel, and the Book Bench blog of the New Yorker magazine. When she is not writing, she is eating something made with whipped cream. What could that be? You guessed it. Whipped cream. Straight up. She blogs about all things cheesy, also parenting, at http://www.goodybastos.blogspot.com/.