Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Some Things Settled: Thanksgiving Turkey, Black Friday

First of all, the standoff between my granddaughter and the turkey was called a draw before Thanksgiving Day.

The turkey that did lose was a 22-pounder brined externally by channeling Molly Stevens, two days before Thursday and left to season in the refrigerator. Two hours to room temperature, four-and-a-half hours at 350-degrees after an initial singe at 450, then an hour’s rest before deboning and carving deli style— all in all, a pretty good eating bird. The only leftover by the weekend was a small portion of turkey soup.

So it’s settled: It is possible to have a simple, tasty turkey...

Despite what Mark Bittman claims is an annual culinary disaster:

“At the hands of all but the most experienced, careful or lucky cooks, the more than 700 million pounds of turkey we’ll buy this week will wind up with breast meat that’s cottony-dry and leg meat that is underdone, tough, stringy or all three. And although a friend of mine claims that this is how people like it — “it’s exactly how our grandmothers did it, and it’s what we grew up with,” he says — I believe this explains why we waste an estimated $282 million worth of turkey each year, enough to feed each food-insecure American with 11 servings.” All Hail the Sweet Potato  

Before going on to extol the virtues of the sweet potato, Bittman concedes: “Thanksgiving is a celebratory feast that has little to do with the harvest or the brilliance of the food but rather family and memories and, usually, obligations.”

His contention that we don’t get together to eat good food on Thanksgiving but are basically celebrating a tradition made me rethink all the messages I got encouraging me to take part in Black Friday and those I got dissing Black Friday.

“It’s a family tradition,” a Black Friday shopper said in one news account.

So that settles it for me about Black Friday.

It’s not one of my family traditions like eating turkey on Thanksgiving. I’d give a polite ‘no thank you’ to an offer to join in a tofukey meal or to join you on Black Friday--- but if tofukey or Black Friday are part of your traditions, go to it. I simply suggest we be polite in going about our traditions. After all, customs are the rocks upon which our societies are erected, but there’s little gained by throwing them at each other.

--Mike Sato

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