A Hell of a Turkey
I can make my way around a kitchen passably when there are mouths to feed, but I’m no chef and readily admit to lacking certain basic competences that French Canadian farmers of my grandmother’s generation would have acquired by the time they turned 13. I excel at pizzas and one-pot meals because they don’t require me to time several different dishes and get them onto plates before my guests have either drunk too much to care about comradely tact, or have already fallen asleep (or both). Roasting a large, dry bird is, relatively speaking, more complicated.
Despite this, I have been put in charge of Thanksgiving dinner once again, a job that I both relish for its challenge, and dread for its high odds of failure. I undergo vigorous mental preparation upon learning that I’m to be the Thanksgiving cook, reflecting upon the highs and lows of my several past efforts, and calling on my Irish Coast Guard training, which advocates keeping the liquor cabinet stocked in case one screws up the most important meal of the year.
Meat thermometers have failed me over the years, so this time I went out and purchased one that cost nearly $30 and has a remote alarm feature that can travel with me up to 200 feet from the roasting bird. If I’m 200 feet from the turkey, I’m in someone else’s house, so I’m not likely to need this feature, but buying it seemed better than doing what I’ve done in the past – sticking several different thermometers into the bird such that it looks like an acupuncturist’s practice cadaver.
Ironically, this year’s Thanksgiving battle is occurring in the middle of yet another of my occasional attacks of anosmia, and I can’t smell a damned thing. Being an anosmic cook is not quite analogous to being, say, a deaf audio engineer, but when you’re only so-so in the kitchen, it sure doesn’t help. With any luck, the disorder will correct itself by the time I need to sniff the milk before adding it to mashed potatoes. If not, I’ll give that job to my son.