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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Talking turkey

The President pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey yesterday. Two of them, actually, named Marshmallow and Yam.

But why? Is this ceremony implying that it s somehow un-American to kill, cook, and eat turkeys? Just once I'd like to see the President - any President - say "We are gathered here to pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey, as is our annual tradition. But, goddamn, that's one fine-lookin' bird, all big and plump and juicy. Pierre, fire up the oven. Bob, get my axe - it's in the Oval Office, behind the chair, next to my baseball bat."

Thanksgiving is a celebration of carnivorosity and gluttony as Americans stuff themselves silly and then plop down to watch some football. We then proceed to slowly consume the leftovers and eventually declare that we are all feeling sick from eating so much turkey. Sick from the turkey? Well, it's probably food poisoning resulting from eating improperly preserved leftovers. If you get a "stomach virus" in the next week or so, it might not be a virus at all.

I know someone who insists on a Tofurkey every year. I've tried it. It's horrid. Not just the taste, but the texture as well. Tofurkey is covered with cheesecloth-like bumps to try to simulate the texture of plucked turkey skin. This is one aspect of vegetarianism I've never understood: why, if eating meat is so evil, do so many vegetarians try their best to recreate the taste and texture of meat with their non-meat meals? It's intellectually and ethically dishonest. I'm not a vegetarian, but I could live on lentils and barley for a good long time. The combination has a texture and flavor and mouth-feel that is delicious and uniquely its own without having to be dressed up as simulated meat.

I've been looking around at children's books about Thanksgiving lately, and any of them that feature turkeys as main characters seem to be about the turkey trying to save itself or its family from the chopping block. Why? Are we trying to teach our kids that omnivorosity is wrong? Maybe create a little family conflict at the Thanksgiving dinner table? I really think my Littlest Turkey is a more appropriate sort of holiday fable. At least there the turkey winds up in the freezer case and eventually the oven, as do millions of real turkeys each year.

But not Marshmallow and Yam. Nope, they're doing to Disneyland!

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