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The Curse of the Pilgrims

At the writing of this post, I await with excitement and trepidation my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. The good part is the family part—visiting with loved ones amid a hubbub of noise, clutter and humid cloud of delicious food aromas.

And that brings up the increasingly more evident bad part—my stomach. Back when I was 15, my dad gave me an oversized serving platter instead of a plate and said, “Enjoy it while you can.” I promptly filled the serving platter twice, followed it with three slices of pie and wondered what he was talking about.

Now I know. Now I eat Thanksgiving dinner with the specter of acid reflux hovering over my head. Rich food tastes just as good, but doesn’t sit well in my stomach. It gurgles and lurches like a lump of delicious lead and for the first time I wonder if the turkey farmers have any regrets.

Through no fault of its own, turkey has become synonymous with holiday overeating. It tastes pretty much the same as chicken, right? Yet it has been unable to keep up with its nimble cousin. There are no Turkey McNuggets, no turkey tenders, no grilled turkey fillets or Chinese turkey stir fry. And why? Because whenever we see the name turkey, our stomachs moan and we think, “Ohh nooo.”

I think it’s because when you buy a turkey, you are making a 10-day commitment. For 10 days, you must attack this carcass with every leftover recipe at your disposal before finally you eat the last bowl of turkey noodle soup. With chicken, you just call out, “I’ll take a number four, extra crispy.” And three minutes later, you are literally back on the road. Sure, it’s a simple thing to process a turkey into pretty much any size portion you want, but the weight of the holidays and the enormous inertia of all of those belt-busting meals have stopped turkey food progress and created what I call the Curse of the Pilgrims.

Three hundred and more years ago, a hungry pilgrim was slogging through the forest looking for something to eat, he missed the chicken (too small) but nabbed the bigger turkey.

And the turkey farmers have been struggling ever since.