food

Turkey Day

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This year I missed out on what has become a family and neighborhood tradition, Turkey Day. Turkey Day takes place every year on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and is attended by a few friends and neighbors and by the guests of honor, 13 or 14 big white turkeys. The guests of honor are escorted to metal cones where their feathered neck meets sharpened knife and they begin to fulfill their Thanksgiving destiny.

For as long as I can remember my parents have been raising their own meat. As the owner of a feed mill and the last in a long line of feed millers, Dad always enjoyed raising animals and giving advice, based on his experience, to his customers. When I was a kid we'd raise chickens, lambs, the occasional pig and, of course, turkeys, all of which would end up on the dinner plate. Let me note here that they did not end up on my dinner plate as I'm a vegetarian and have been since I was old enough to refuse it.....go figure. Dad would always butcher the birds himself and over the years stopped raising everything but turkeys explaining that there is "nothing like a fresh bird" for Thanksgiving. 

Having never taken part in the eating of turkey on Thanksgiving, I wouldn't know how good a fresh bird is, but I have to believe Dad is right because every year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, after all the blood and feathers have been cleaned from the barn floor, people from all around stop in to pick up their fresh turkey, as they have for a couple decades now. 

Little me with Turkey Day guests of honor

Even though I don't eat meat, there is something so entirely fascinating about knowing where food comes from. In this time of fast food and the easy trip to Wal-mart, many of us have no idea what it takes to grow our dinner. If I were to eat turkey this Thanksgiving, I would find it comforting to know what my turkey had eaten, how it had spent its days and where it came from. I know that for some this is entirely too much information about their food and requires them to think of their dinner as a once living and breathing creature, which yes, can be disconcerting, but was once a concept people regularly understood and accepted. 


There is also something wonderfully quaint and old fashioned about raising your own Thanksgiving dinner. For us it has become a tradition, albeit an archaic one by today's standards, but a tradition nonetheless. Much like walking into the woods and sawing down our own Christmas tree, there are easier ways to go about our holidays but it just wouldn't be the same if we didn't do it the hard way. 

I spent this Turkey Day packing and preparing for our trip home. My beau, the cats and I will be spending our Thanksgiving in my little apartment in Western New York. This will be the first year I've tried my hand at making a Thanksgiving dinner but with my beau as the turkey master, and our mothers on various other food details, the task seems less daunting. This is also the first year that my beau will experience a fresh turkey in all it's glory, it's just too darn bad we missed out on this year's Turkey Day.



To those that will be celebrating tomorrow,
Happy Thanksgiving





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