My mom is responsible for creating wonderful Thanksgiving traditions that go beyond the traditional. There is always plenty to eat for vegetarians–not just a heap of potatoes and a roll. She is a vegetarian and an incredible cook, and makes a meal that herbvivores and carnivores enjoy side by side (salami, stuffed mushrooms, meatballs, spinach pie, sweet potato casserole to name a few favorites). This year was no different–the family getting together and enjoying delicious food made it my favorite day of the year. Thanks, mom!
Perhaps our family’s most unusual Thanksgiving ritual is the annual voting of the food. At the end of the meal, each dish is voted and commented on anonymously. My dad then reads all the comments while someone else tallies up the votes. Since many people in my family pride themselves in their terrific senses of humor (who is the funniest?), the comments are hilarious. The least favorite dish is not invited back on the menu the following year. Several years back, I remember the turkey getting the lowest vote, but an exception was made for the bird. I did not understand why an exception was made, since I enjoyed vegetarian Thanksgiving year after year and did not miss the turkey one bit.
Now that I am back to eating meat after an almost 20-year hiatus, I was curious about this turkey business, and eager to contribute a second turkey for the holiday meal. I picked it up from Stinky Brooklynon Smith Street. The turkey came from Stonewood Farms in Vermont. It was antibiotic and hormone-free, and pasture-raised with uncrowded open sided barns. Turkeys from true family farms such as this one are a far cry from what is produced and being called ‘turkey’ on the mass-market.
Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals is not my favorite book because reading it sort of feels like being lectured to by my 13 -year old self. However, I’m glad he wrote it because we are so far removed from our food that it is impossible for people to imagine what really goes on behind factory farm doors. He explains in detail some of the problems:
“Jamming deformed, drugged, overstressed birds in a filthy, waste-coated room is not very healthy. Beyond deformities, eye damage, blindness, bacterial infections of bones, slipped vertebrae, paralysis, internal bleeding, anemia, slipped tendons, twisted lower legs and necks, respiratory diseases, and weakened immune systems are frequent and long-standing problems on factory farms.”
Clearly, this treatment causes a great deal of suffering for the animals involved. But even if someone couldn’t care less about the life of a turkey, do we really want to be eating animals that are this unhealthy? Their natural life-cycle is so disrupted that they don’t even taste the same. Foer goes onto explain that factory farmed birds are then “injected (or otherwise pumped up) with “broths” and salty solutions to give them what we have come to think of as the…look, smell, and taste.”
Although I still don’t think turkey is a necessity on Thanksgiving Day, I enjoyed preparing the turkey with my husband this year. I looked up a recipe (Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey), he did most of the hard work, and I watched in awe.
Now, of course, there are tons of leftovers. This morning I made a turkey soup and this quick recipe for curried turkey salad. Enjoy!
2 cups of chopped roasted turkey
1 rib of celery, diced
2 tablespoons mayonaisse
1 teaspoon curry powder (I was out, so made my own version from mixing cumin, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, and mustard powders)
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1. Mix together mayonaisse with curry powder.
2. Fold in turkey and celery and combine. Add salt and pepper.
3. Serve over a bed of greens, or in a sandwich.