Good morning and greetings, cranberry sauce fans. That’s right, we’re just three shopping days away from Thanksgiving, the holiday where families gather together to give thanks that this occasion occurs only once a year. Then throw in some turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, the Detroit Lions losing and some dysfuctional family behavor. Top it all off with with a little tryptophan pudding and bring on Black Friday.
So in honor of this festival of gravy and leftovers, I thought we would take a stroll down Plymouth Lane and look at some of the more interesting and unusual aspects that make this day so damn special.
According to my sources at KFC, the food that would have been on the first Thanksgiving Day menu consisted of venison (deer), wild fowl (geese, duck, wild turkey, eagles, parakeets), seafood (lobster, eel, cod, pirana), dried corn, pumpkin, nuts (walnuts, acorns, Ross Perot), and fruits (plums, grapes, Liberace).
There was no milk, cookies, cheese, cheetos, bread, butter, sweet potatoes, pringles, cranberry sauce, apple, peaches or pumpkin pie at the original Thanksgiving Day feast. The Pilgrims ate their first dinner with only spoons and knives as all the forks were in the road.
There is no official reason or declaration for the use of turkey on Thanksgiving. Along with chipmunk, possum and prairie dog, it just happened to be the most plentiful meat available at the time of the first celebration in 1621. Fossil evidence shows that turkeys roamed the Americas 10 million years ago, approximately 5 million years before the invention of gravy.
The Guinness Book of Records states that the greatest dressed weight recorded for a turkey was 86 lbs, at the annual “heaviest turkey” competition held in London, England on December 12, 1989. For some reason, that date rings a bell. Turns out it was a free range, honey basted turkey packed with bowling ball stuffing.
Being a bourbon man like myself, wild turkeys, while technically the same species as domesticated turkeys, have a very different taste from farm-raised turkeys. Almost all of the meat is “dark” (even the breasts) with a more intense turkey flavor. However, there is no difference between wild and domesticated gravy.
Wild turkeys can fly up to 55 miles per hour over short distances. Domesticated turkeys cannot fly but can sprint like a barbecued chicken. Only male turkeys gobble. The gobble is actually a seasonal mating call which I perfected back at Syracuse. Turkeys have great hearing skills but no ears. Thus you will never hear a turkey say, “I can’t believe how cold it is. My ears are freezing.”
History states that only five women Pilgrims survived the first year at the Plymouth settlement and they were the first ones to cook and prepare the first meager celebration meal, in 1621. Journals say the celebration lasted 3 days after which the women were left to do all the dishes while they men drank beer and then fell asleep watching football.
Twenty percent of cranberries consumed are eaten on Thanksgiving. However, I dine on the Ocean Spray of life 52 weeks a year. Contrary to popular belief, Native Americans did not eat cranberries, but found them extremely useful for dying fabric, decorating pottery and hurling them at unsuspecting Pilgrims.
The first Thanksgiving involved no cranberry sauce or hot dinner rolls. Cranberries were everywhere, but sugar, which is an even more important ingredient in cranberry sauce than the cranberries themselves was a huge luxury good at the time. So that meant no Haagen Daz on the pumpkin pie.
Sarah Josepha Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and America’s first female magazine editor, wrote to five U.S. presidents over 40 years urging that Thanksgiving be made a national holiday. She was eventually successful with Abraham Lincoln and her fleece was white as snow.
And finally, the average person consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. And that’s just while carving the bird.
We continue with a joke I never tire of. A turkey farmer was always experimenting with breeding to perfect a better turkey. His family was fond of the leg portion for dinner and there were never enough legs for everyone. After many frustrating attempts, the farmer was relating the results of his efforts to his friends at the general store. “Well I finally did it! I bred a turkey that has 6 legs!” They all asked the farmer how it tasted. “I don’t know” said the farmer. “I never could catch the darn thing!”
Moving along, for today’s photo montage we head to over to Natural Bridges State Beach. I was going to feature a beautiful sunset from last Saturday but then Thursday evening came along and Derrick Rose to the head of the class.
I could see that the late afternoon clouds had some unusual texture, which bode well for some much needed color in my life. And as you can see from the last two images, it was a blanket of orange in the sky, and I knew then that this was what I needed to bring to this week’s post. Only the best for my cyber audience and imaginary friends.
Lots of late night fun this week. “Sunday night was the debut of the reality show, ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska.’ It got huge ratings. Even people over in Russia were watching and they didn’t need TVs. They could see it from their porch. The new Oxford dictionary has declared Sarah Palin’s made-up word ‘refudiate’ the 2010 word of the year. When asked for her reaction to the dubious honor, Palin said she would not ‘dignitate’ it with a response.” –Jay Leno “Sarah Palin has a new show. She takes viewers all around Alaska, and shows them where she water-boarded Levi Johnston.” –David Letterman
“President Bush is everywhere talking about his book and he’s being very candid. In one interview, he said that he used to do stupid things while he was drunk. But think about it, who among us hasn’t had a couple of drinks and invaded Iraq? “Former first lady Laura Bush used to be a librarian. Coincidentally, she’s the only thing George W. Bush ever checked out at the library.” –David Letterman “They just had the groundbreaking ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. It’s easy to get into the building, but then you spend 10 years trying to find an exit strategy.” –Jimmy Fallon
“The day before Thanksgiving is National Opt-Out Day, where people are being asked to boycott the TSA’s full-body scanners. Sponsors of the event say people shouldn’t be made to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable while traveling. That’s what Thanksgiving with your family is for.” -Jimmy Fallon “People are concerned that the new airport security scanners could lead to pictures of their genitals ending up on the Internet. Apparently no one has told them that without pictures of genitals, there would be no Internet.” –Conan O’Brien
“It was bad enough when the TSA agents would go through your underwear in your luggage. Now they’re going through your underwear while you’re wearing it. Now, to make it worse, the airlines are charging a $15 molestation fee.” –Jay Leno “In San Diego, a man refused to be patted down by airport security and some people are calling him a hero. I don’t mind being patted down by airport security, but I don’t like it when the guy says, ‘Now you do me.’” –Conan O’Brien
So that’s our pre-holiday report. On Thursday, take a moment to reflect how fortunate you are to be among family and friends. For many, this day is not all fun and games and stuffing, as many people and families are just happy to be fed a hot meal. So savor those warm feelings and try and be grateful for more than the leftovers on Friday. And remember, it is always better to thanksgive than receive.
We had some wild weather this weekend as a cold front traveling south from Alaska brought buckets of rain, hail, thunder, lightning and a beautiful full arch rainbow that graced the early morning sky on Sunday. It reminds me of the old joke, what’s the technical term for a warm, sunny day which follows two days of rain? It’s called Monday.
So enjoy the four-day weekend and we’ll catch you in the end zone. Aloha, mahalo and later, Mark Sanchez fans.