Thanksgiving.

It’s the season. The leaves have started falling, and the trees along the streets have started wearing their amazing cloaks of red, orange, yellow and purple. Everywhere I look these same colored leaves are falling, hurtling in the air, anxious to lie down on the still green grass. Fire in the hearth goes up, and you start thinking of roasting and grilling some kababs on the grill inside.

And with this falling of the season comes another season. The season of turkey eating. Now, a lot of people in this country absolutely love the fowl. Turkey is the mantra they live by. I couldn’t be too bothered with its taste or the texture. Mother used to cook it at home with spices and make it like qorma. The pieces were okay but nothing that I craved. But that was more than half a century ago, when my palate was not as “sophisticated”, and when I was told to eat something, I had to eat it regardless of whether I liked it or not. It is different here.

It is a tradition to make turkey. It is the centerpiece of all tables. Baked bird, sitting high on top of stuffing, and smothered with potatoes and carrots and what have you. The first year I was in this country, we were invited to a Thanksgiving feast by some friends. They talked about the ‘bird’ endlessly. I would look at them with surprise, my eyes wide with anticipation of manna and salwa! I started dreaming about the bird. Came Thursday, and we drove thirty miles in the country to our hosts and meet their entire family and of course the ‘bird’!

I have to tell you though, the table looked amazing. The turkey was the center of attention, baked red and golden, its breast up, the wings folded over, and then I saw its legs… the drumsticks as they are called. Plump and golden and between these drumsticks was this cascade of stuffing made with bread crumbs and celery and doused with broth. “Oh yuck!” I thought to myself! I am supposed to eat that blob?

The carving of the turkey brought out all sorts of oohs and aahs from the rest of the people and I just kept getting goose bumps all over my skin. I filled my plate with a thin slice of the bird, some mashed potatoes, green beans and a slice of bread. Couldn’t bear to eat the stuffing that was coming out of the turkey’s lower part! One mouthful of the bird meat, made me almost choke! God Almighty, what is this? The meat was tasteless, no spices, nothing… everyone around me was just over the moon with praises for the moistness of the bird, and the delicious tenderness. They kept asking me, “don’t you just love this bird?” I would look at them and say, “This is my first time with it!” That was the wrong thing to say. They brought more meat and offered it to me.

Anyhow, the dinner was suffered through by me, and then of course the desserts were served. I did more than justice to that.

To this day, fifty plus years later, I still cannot tolerate the turkey at Thanksgiving. However, yes, however, I have found the answer to my prayers. A decade or more ago, in one of the Neiman Marcus catalogues, which had the epicurean section of meats and desserts I found a turkey that was hickory smoked and honey cured. Voila! I had hit jackpot! I ordered it. It was a great hit in my household, and for the last umpteen years that turkey has sat at one of the corners of my Thanksgiving table! The centerpiece of course is Biryani and Murgh Musallam, Shami and shikampur, baghare Baigan and dahi ki chutney. Neiman Marcus doesn’t offer that particular turkey any more, but thanks to Google, I have found other places that do.

So in this season of thanksgiving, I am grateful that I have the turkey for the guests who love it, and my own kind of food that I love. The table with all the delicacies stretches out in the dining room. I think it is okay to have the bird once a year, don’t you think?

Seriously though, when you think of Thanksgiving, we have to think of the native Indians who had to give up so much and who were so hospitable to the white man and yet got the short end of the stick.

And we give thanks!! Ironic, no??

About Zakiah

I write poetry and some fiction, have a book that was published in 2012. . . Stray Thoughts/Winged Words. I have four grandchildren, ages 16 and half to almost 16 months. I love the ocean, and grew up along the Indian Ocean in South India. I am a retired physician. Don't know much else to say. Thanks for reading. That has been my profile for so many years. My daughter Saadia a great poet and story teller, has two sons; the oldest grandson is now 21 years old, doing architectural engineering at Missouri S&T in Rolla MO. His younger brother is almost 16 and taking driving lessons seriously and is in High School. The other two grandsons, children of my son Sayeed, are 9 and 5. I have recently published another book titled Gulistan, A home of Flowers. It has stories and memories of my childhood and of a distant land which I still consider as my HOME., even though I have lived here in the US for more than fifty years. Hope to see you on my blog.
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20 Responses to Thanksgiving.

  1. murisopsis says:

    I am sure that the bird is a mere side note to the exceptional feast you will prepare! Thanksgiving has a strange history but it remains a moment when the Native Americans took pity on the strange interlopers and saved them from starvation. That they were later disenfranchised is a dark stain in US history.

    • Zakiah says:

      I love Thanksgiving holiday. It is so free of gift giving and all the paraphernalia of commercialization of a holiday that has been taken as a hostage to the demands of the societal pressure. I love to have a lot of people come for dinner. Every intern every resident who was away from home, would be at our table. I would add the two or three extra leaves to the table, and would have, Indian and American cuisine spread all over it. But age and health have taken a toll. Now I make only four or five dishes, and children bring some food too. They want only FAMILY, to be around. Which is kind of sad for me. I like a house full of people.

  2. slmret says:

    Every culture has its harvest festival with a thanks-giving feast! I’m sorry you are not fond of the turkey, a bird that many Americans consider their best meal — but I’m sure your feast will include other wonderful foods. I’m not actually certain that the Native Americans of Pilgrim days ever ate turkey either — I’ve read that they provided a vegetarian harvest for their thanks! Enjoy the day and the implications of a harvest dinner!

    • Zakiah says:

      Like I said in my post, the only turkey that will go down my throat (with ease), is the hickory smoked turkey. I find the bird very bland and regardless of how moist it is, it is just unpalatable for me. yes I do have several other dishes along with it. I have ordered some desserts from Neiman Marcus already, and will have them frozen until The Day. The turkey will come from California, a small town in Missouri. They are famous for their smoked meats. Janet, I wish you could come and have Thanksgiving with us. There were some years when we went to the Country Club for the meal. That was a great event. The children didn’t want me to cook; and even though it was a grand affair, the turkey used to be bland! 😦

      • slmret says:

        Turkey was always special in our home as I grew up — but I have to admit that I like the leftovers better than the hot roast — casseroles, sandwiches, etc.can all be very tasty. I do like the smoked turkey as well! For me now, it’s a change from chicken, which has become very bland in its familiarity (I’ve always preferred white meat to dark, as it’s easier to eat without making a mess!). I wish I could join you for Thanksgiving — but my calendar is still a little full to travel anywhere. I expect to be here for Thanksgiving, and, if all goes well, I’ll go to Santa Barbara for Christmas.

    • Zakiah says:

      I am so glad you like smoked turkey. Now I won’t feel bad when you come here for Thanksgiving the NEXT time.
      I hope you have a wonderful visit in Santa Barbara. Love and hugs.

      • slmret says:

        I think I’ll be here (at home) for Thanksgiving, perhaps even cooking a small turkey for myself. If so, there will be lots of leftovers for sandwiches and casseroles! Next trip out of town will probably be for Christmas. It’s been a while, and I’m itching to go, but with biopsies to hear about and another surgery (eyelid), I’d have to drive on the worst traffic days of the year to go for Thanksgiving!

  3. mrswrangler says:

    I am not a fan of turkey. Instead I eat ham if possible. If there is no ham I take one tiny slice of turkey. And fill up on all the wonderful sides. If the turkey is cooked into traditional chicken recipes I am okay then.

  4. Tree says:

    I eat a few pieces of turkey, but for me the best part of the holiday is the stuffing. My mother’s recipe makes it with actual bread, and I love my carbs. I agree with you, the bird is kind of bland.

    • Zakiah says:

      Stuffing is the best part of the thanksgiving meal in my opinion. I have never made it with the bread. Does she toast the bread first? I make the dressing with store bought bread pieces, and add turkey sausage and celery and mushrooms etc. I love the dressing on Thanksgiving table.

      • Tree says:

        Mom’s recipe is super simple. It’s cubed bread, sautéed onions in butter, poultry seasoning, and a few other spices. No sausage or celery. Some people add in turkey or chicken broth, but mom just uses a bit of water to moisten the bread before putting it in the oven or stuffing it in the turkey.

        Now I’m hungry for some! 😀

  5. I love turkey but I’ve grown up on it. We have turkey at Christmas and other times of the year if we can afford it. For me, Thanksgiving is the only time of the year, my entire family (siblings/parents and as many of the ‘grands” as possible) get together. So it’s more about family and fun that what we are eating. 😉
    I am pretty sure the Native Americans would have had veggies and deer..not turkey. Yes, it’s very ironic.
    I’m glad you have found what works for you and your family. That’s really what it’s all about…Families being grateful, spending time together and filling the table with love. 😉
    Love and hugs my friend.

    • Zakiah says:

      You are so right Elizabeth. As I have remarked to Val above, I love this holiday. It is so free of expectations of gifts and stuff, and I love having the family around and so much laughter. This year my cousin will come from Orlando. That is going to be extra nice.

  6. We had the same issue when we first moved to Canada. We (the kids) all wanted to try turkey. Mom was a great cook and we knew it would be good. But the bird was dry. My mom was so angry because it took so long to prepare it. And then there was so many leftovers. After that, we usually purchased roast duck or my mom would roast lamb shoulder.

    • Zakiah says:

      You understand how I feel. I am so surprised at so many of my friends who love the bland and dry meat of the baked turkey. But they probably think the same about my spicy Indian food! I know, the left overs just get to me. The past several years I have been packing them up and giving them to my son in law Dave, who likes the white meat of the turkey. Roast lamb shoulder sounds so good too Matt. I should try that sometime soon. I had done that many years ago, not for thanksgiving but when I had a bunch of Iranian friends over.

  7. What you said about the stuffing made me snort-laugh! I’m not a big fan of stuffing and especially when people cook it in the turkey butt! Ack! 😀 I make stuffing by itself in a small roasting pan for those who like it.

    This time of year I ❤ yams, pumpkins, corn, squashes, apples, cranberries, nuts, etc! Ha! I don't mind The Bird once a year on Thanksgiving and I like using the leftovers in some creative ways! Wow, the bird you found sounds de-licious!!! 🙂

    I like when Thanksgiving is a combo of "traditional American" foods and other recipes. My family is multi-cultural so we have Asian, Italian, Mexican, Soul food, etc. on the table! It's kinda' a mish-mash meal, but the food is always wonderful…and the time spent with family and friends and the thankfulness is the focus!

    I bet YOUR Thanksgiving meal will be v-e-r-y v-e-r-y yummy and wonderful! 🙂
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    • Zakiah says:

      I have never cooked the stuffing inside the bottom of the bird. No way! I too always make it in a separate pan, and I think I make a kick ass dressing. My family loves it too.
      Your dishes, the variety that you have talked about, sounds so good. I drooled.
      I have made soup and some casserole with the left overs occasionally. But usually send the left overs home with the children. They use it in sandwiches.

  8. r_hsw says:

    i never understood the love for turkeys in the united states. just like you, i found it to be too bland for me to acquire a fondness for it. if they cut it in pieces and slow braised them in curry, then i might be the first to line up at the buffet spread on thanksgiving days. but i did look forward to thanksgiving days back when i used to live there, only because of my fondness for pumpkin pies. nowadays, living in south east asia has made me oblivious to thanksgiving season, since we don’t celebrate it here. i only remember it when i read about it on friends’ posts on Facebook, or on another site, such as your post here. and now you got me craving for some pumpkin pie, which they don’t make/sell here where i live 😦

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