Stuffing. Mashed potatoes. Macaroni and cheese. Sweet-potato casserole. Perfectly golden dinner rolls. Some green-bean casserole to soothe the Midwesterner in all of us. Side dishes are the true stars of Thanksgiving dinner. That’s right — I’m coming for your precious holiday bird. Turkey is not welcome at my Thanksgiving.
I suppose I can understand the impulse to continue the tradition of eating turkey on Thanksgiving. Turkeys (the bird) aren’t doing themselves any favors. They make dumb noises and their necks look like infected, nondescript genitalia. I see why someone would look at a turkey and think, Ugh, just eat him already! However, that is where my understanding ends.
Turkey (the food) is too much work for too little reward. Every recipe uses words like “babysit” when talking about how to properly cook a turkey. No! I do not want to be the caretaker of my food. My food should take care of me. I’ve never had to coddle a pot of mashed potatoes, sing sweetly to some green beans as I dump them into a Pyrex with cream of mushroom soup. My crunchy onions need no chaperone. My stuffing basically prepares itself. Give me delicious, seasonal goop that does not require parental guidance! And do not get me started on having to baste a turkey. “Basting” is perverted, and it doesn’t end there.
Part of turkey preparation involves sticking your hand inside of it? For what?! I am not going to fist my dinner in front of my family. You know what doesn’t require strings, suction tools, and hand penetration? Literally any and all Thanksgiving side dishes.
BuT i NeEd MeAt fOr DinNeR! Fine! Have chicken or whatever. I guess you can roast a ham if you so please. Also — I’m going to need you to take a breath and think for a moment before you respond to what I’m about to say — there are very delicious vegetarian alternatives that require no removal of innards or colonial rituals. Have you met the Celebration Roast? It is wonderful and, I believe, fulfills what you want out of your turkey. Is it pretty? Absolutely not, but it’s savory and has a turkey-esque texture. Plus, you don’t have to dress it or baste it or give it a little kiss on the head so it cooks correctly.
You may think that perhaps I’ve only ever had bad turkey. False! I’ve had delicious turkey. Turkey that has been lovingly tended to over the course of multiple days. Turkey that fed my stomach and my soul. I don’t think turkey tastes bad; I think it does not taste good enough for the amount of effort required to make it taste okay.
Turkey aside, I take a “no rules, just right” approach to Thanksgiving dinner. Corn on the cob and maple-glazed Brussels sprouts? Join the party, my vegetable friends! A plate of only mashed potatoes and gravy? Coming right up! Cranberry sauce from a can or made from scratch? Why not both! Any and all are welcome at the table. Except turkey. Keep that perverse bird far away.