While Thanksgiving is now finished on both sides of the border, the spectre of Christmas dinner is looming on the horizon. What I love about Kristin Iversen’s Fuck Turkey is everything: tone, wit, anger, and relentless usage of everyone’s favourite four-letter word:
Turkey is not a good-tasting bird. Fuck turkey for not even tasting as good as fucking bland-ass chicken, which is a pretty low bar to begin with. Fuck turkey for not tasting anywhere near as good as duck, with its tender as hell breast meat which stays succulent thanks to being able to baste in its own delicious fat. And I’m not even going to talk about how good duck leg confit is because then I’ll just start getting mad at how mediocre the turkey leg confit was that I made one Thanksgiving in a last ditch effort to redeem it by making turkey finally taste ok and then after all that time prepping and cooking, guess what that turkey tasted like: just ok.
As someone who’s tried a few of the experiments below to middling results, I found myself nodding and chortling:
Fuck brining. Fuck a wet brine. Fuck a dry brine. Fuck a brown paper bag. Fuck butter under the skin. Fuck “turketta.” Fuck deep-frying. Fuck sous-vide. Fuck sous-vide before deep-frying, because how much fucking time do you have to spend to make something that doesn’t taste good, taste ok? Too much fucking time, that’s how much.
She forgot spatchcocking, which was fine when we tried it last year.
The practice of eating together as a family feels like something that’s been happening forever, but that’s not the case. In The Wretched Table: How Dinner in America Became an Ordeal, Britt Peterson talks about the stresses of what’s a relatively recent cultural phenomenon:
Modern dinner is stressful by design. Once a midday meal of convenience, it took on a much more heightened cultural role during the Industrial Revolution, when the family began to splinter during the day and dinner became the reunion, Abigail Carroll, a food historian and author of Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal, told me. And with that new elevation came new pressures.
Elinor Ochs, whose research forms the basis of the article, talks about the contradictions in the dinner experience:
Ochs’ results suggested some deep contradictions when it came to how Americans experienced dinner. On the one hand, she said, it was a moment of intimacy that encouraged kids to confide in their parents. On the other, there was intense pressure put on children, who came under both parents’ interrogative spotlight at once. She wrote that dinner could feel like a panopticon; that the way parents held out dessert as a reward for finishing vegetables was a highly Protestant way of putting duty before pleasure. “Everything that has a good side has also the potential to have a disruptive side that tears relationships apart,” Ochs told me.
The article itself mostly just whet my appetite for more.1 Notions of how the nuclear family takes on increased significance in the wake of the community-weakening dynamics of the industrial revolution (and after) is fascinating to me and I wish it dove in further.