My Turkey Can Beat Your Turkey


How was your Thanksgiving dinner? Mine was traditional, in the sense that there was a roasted turkey made of turkey meat. Beyond that, our traditional American Thanksgiving meal was circumvented in a twisted, serpentine, Gordian knot of cooking contortions thanks to the numerous dietary considerations presented by an extended family of 14 people.

Rusty is allergic to eggs and nuts. Ditto his second cousin, although the cousin can eat peanuts, not tree nuts. Rusty is extremely sensitive to peanuts. If I say the word “Snickers” to him, he breaks out in hives. So, even though we were spending Thanksgiving in the Dirty South, there was no pecan pie. Really, though, who eats pecan pie? Aunt Bee?

There was a diabetic. There were at least two vegetarians, and possibly one vegan. There was a self-proclaimed pescetarian. Sorry, but I’m not about to stuff a flounder for Thanksgiving dinner. A couple of people announced that they were gluten-free, meaning they were chock full of pain-in-the-ass.

Lactose intolerance was rampant, including one person could have no dairy at all. I looked in the fridge of the galley-sized kitchen of the house where we stayed, and counted six cartons of milk. None of them came from an animal. I find I can’t deal with cow’s milk myself anymore, on account of it gives me a stomach ache and tends to make the air around me smell funny. But I’ll at least tolerate its presence. Not these people.

One person had recently discovered the horrors of GMO, and insisted that all the food we consumed was GMO-free. I don’t even think the Pilgrims were able to guarantee that. I came back from the grocery store (one of many trips), and was immediately interrogated. I felt like Leonard bringing home some Chinese food for Sheldon on Big Bang Theory.

Anti-GMO: “Did you get the soy milk?”

Me: “Yes. Right here.”

AGMO: “Is it GMO-free?”

Me: “Yes. See this big colorful seal down here in the corner?”

AGMO: “Is it unsweetened?”

Me: “Yes.”

AGMO: “No sugar?”

Me: “I promise, it will taste just like dirty water.”

You can imagine the complications of trying to table a meal that would be safe from cross-contamination for those with true allergies. We’ve lived with it in Rusty’s case for 17 years, so we know the drill. (“Was that apple pie knife used to cut the pumpkin pie? For god’s sake, THROW IT ALL IN THE GARBAGE.”) Barb was in charge of the dinner, fortunately, and everyone had full confidence that she is diligent enough that no one would have to be helicoptered out of there to the nearest doc-in-the-box.


Faster than a speeding…Butterball?

One of her cousins made a big vegetarian casserole that could safely feed her family that deals with the diabetes, the wheat allergy, the dairy issues, and the egg and tree nut allergies. Somehow they could all eat this casserole which was made of, I believe, uncooked rice and hair. I don’t know. I had the green beans, which were organic, and cost about 75 cents per bean.

This cousin’s wheat allergy came to light the day before, during the grocery list summit meeting.

Me: “So, can you have, like, a big bowl of Cap’n Crunch?”

No Wheat Cousin: “No, I can’t have any wheat.”

Me: “What about hamburger buns?”

NWC: “Again, no wheat. I can’t eat wheat.”

Me: “So, like, what about Wheat Thins?”

I noticed that she sat as far as possible from me at dinner. I mean, she was at the kids’ table.

Somehow it all worked. There were no food-based crises, unless you count running out of gravy. Which I do. My gravy-based diet requires a constant intake of that savory nectar, and God knows I needed to pour a ton of it on my plate to flavor up all the salt-free, low-fat stuff I’d piled high.

Still in all, it was delicious. I’m lucky enough to be married to a woman who not only loves to cook, but she’s fabulously creative in the kitchen. I mean, she’ll come home from work and look in the cupboard, and there will be nothing there but a box of mac ‘n cheese, a can of smoked oysters, and a sleeve of saltines. I’ll wander into the kitchen in my sweatpants and slippers, stretching and yawning. “Sorry, babe, got pretty busy today. Didn’t have time to get to the grocery store.”

Somehow she’ll whip up a tasty meal that belongs on the cover of Southern Living. I honestly don’t know how she does it, but I am in awe.

So Barb took on the challenge of this complicated Thanksgiving dinner dietary Rubik’s cube and managed to build a meal that drew plenty of raves and lots of trips back to the kitchen for seconds and thirds.

I had one job, which was to roast the turkey. It’s not that involved. The big secret is to not mess with it. I usually like to cook it breast side down, but I didn’t want to defend my actions against the inevitable skepticism so I cooked it regular. Sunny side up.

The turkey itself had been purchased a few days earlier by AGMO.

It was a Butterball.

Talk about a genetically modified organism. Butterball turkeys can run the hundred in under ten seconds. A Butterball turkey contains more growth hormone than the entire O-line of the LSU Tigers. It’s pumped full of preservatives, artificial flavors, industrial strength fowl enhancers, and god knows what else. But no butter.

I said nothing. I just cut off the wrapper, rinsed the carcass, gave it a nice Shiatsu massage with super-extra-virgin-never-even-saw-a-man-with-his-shirt-off olive oil, sprinkled it with sea salt (from the Atlantic ocean, not that radioactive one) and dolphin-safe black pepper, and covered it with foil pup tent. Uh oh. Aluminum. Alzheimer’s.

Ah, well, what are you going to do? We live in a toxic world.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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