A few weeks before heading home for Turkey Day, I found myself sitting around a table discussing the very American holiday with several Frenchmen. They were asking all kinds of questions about what we ate, what was typical, did we really put marshmallows on vegetables, etc. I explained that every family had their own traditions, and then described ours: 10K race in the morning, turkey, bourbon, corn pudding, bourbon, pumpkin pie and more bourbon. (Much like champagne, we believe that bourbon just adds a little je ne sais quoi to any family celebration! As in, I don’t know what else would help us get through 18 hours of cooking and hosting!)
My dinner table companions then wanted to know more about the turkey. Isn’t it dry? they asked. Do you cook it like a chicken? they wondered. And then one older French man went on to describe his first and only Thanksgiving experience. With an air of disgust, he told us about a massive, freakish-looking bird slapped down on the table, with all kinds of mushy side dishes. Then everyone ate at warp speed without speaking, and promptly retired to the couch to snore.
“C’est pas cuisine. C’est nourriture” he triumphantly concluded.
It’s not cuisine. It’s food.
In case you’re wondering, that’s an insult. He basically said we’re celebrating over filler, that we’d eat a roasted shoe slathered in butter with the same gusto. That we have no taste.
So clearly I should have invited him to have a bite of this bird:
There it is folks, my prizewinning free range heritage turkey, brined in the most heavenly concoction of cider and orange peel and then roasted at high heat to rusty-golden perfection. It was absolutely the most juicy, delicious turkey I’ve eaten to date – truly a work of art, I’d say. Haute cuisine, even. Although he did look pretty damn funky when we picked him up. Long and lean, this bird was clearly a runner. And he may or may not have looked like a headless toddler when we put him in the roasting pan.