My Thanksgiving Menu

After last year's Thanksgiving fiasco involving a blob of undercooked turkey, a dinner guest who consumed seven helpings of white meat as if it were Beluga caviar, and bathroom facilities that couldn't keep up with the rush of guests enduring “turkey's revenge,” I vowed this year I would not fix a traditional Thanksgiving meal. This poses a new dilemma: if not turkey, what should I serve?

There are the standard avian alternatives: duck, a large chicken, or a giant pre-processed turkey nugget. But like a whole turkey, these all fall under my cooking category of “things I will fail to thaw sufficiently resulting in undercooked bird meat or dinner served at midnight.” Besides, I don't want the horror I faced last year when everyone referred to my underdone delicacy as a “bird.” I felt as if I were eating a giant Tweety in full view of the friendly sparrows peering through my dining room window in disgust. This feeling also rules out Cornish hens; should my feathered friends in the window witness me consuming a parrot-sized avian brother, I'm certain my fate would be Hitchcockian, akin to Tippi Hedren's.

A pork roast or ham is out, as many of my friends and family do not eat pig meat. Yes, they call pork “pig meat” and have converted me to calling it such as a reminder to myself never to serve it. If I get the pork cooking urge, these compatriots conjure up images of cute pot-bellied pets and the swine celebrity Arnold Ziffel from Green Acres. I then anthropomorphize my mental picture of a ham shank into Porky Pig, Miss Piggy, or any of the numerous cartoon porkers used in restaurants' barbecued rib advertisements. As a result, I haven't eaten pork in two decades.

I'm not a connoisseur of lamb or veal. I equate consumption of these meats to eating baby animals. Logic should dictate otherwise; after all, I eat eggs which are as immature as an animal can get. I also know the beef and chicken I enjoy didn't exactly die of old age. And if an animal is being raised solely to provide food, why should it's age at death matter? It is probably because I have a clearer conscience knowing the cow only spent one year in the high-density feed pen instead of twenty. As for lamb and veal, the real reason I don't partake of either is digestive in nature: the rich meat races through my tract faster than undercooked turkey.

I won't serve a beef roast or tenderloin. There is something not Thanksgiving about beef. If I can find a McDonald's burger within five miles of any place I'm apt to be, then beef is too readily available and too mundane for a special occasion. Though I'd bet my guests would have a memorable feast if I served them Big Macs and fries.

Likewise, there is little that is Thanksgiving about ethnic foods such as lasagna, tacos, and sauerbraten. My images of perfect Thanksgivings are destroyed when I picture Pilgrims in sombreros and leiderhosen.

Though my meat options are limited, I won't be serving an all-veggie meal. Some guests feel the same way I do: there is no better way to be thankful for what you have than eating a big slab of meat. And I refuse to shape vegetable paste or bean curd into a meat form to “fool” omnivores into thinking they are eating meat. I would, however, shape one meat in the form of another (a Spam turkey, for example) to confuse the vegetarians.

So what's left to serve? A Pilgrim-approved menu: boiled cod, spinach, and onions with sides of hard corn and stewed pumpkin with prune tarts for dessert. After I serve this fare, I'm certain my guests will remember the true meaning of the day and give thanks when the dinner is over.