Disclaimer: This post involves blood and guts and death. I think this is totally natural and even a little awesome, but I know others might not. Read at your own risk.
“About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.” - Ernest Hemingway, Death in the AfternoonIn America, every fall we come together for a mass genocide. Millions die while we enjoy the crisp autumn air, the changing of the leaves, and take in a football game. We celebrate this time of death, and even cherish it. It is a beloved tradition to be shared with family. We call it Thanksgiving.
This past Thanksgiving 45 million turkeys gave their lives so that for one day we could look like a Norman Rockwell painting. All trussed up, golden skin crispy and glistening, surrounded by mountains of sides and dressings, this is our turkey's finest moment. What it lived and ultimately died for.
|This guy knows where his dinner comes from.|
|Yes, I think he'll do just fine.|
The family that sold us the bird, like almost every other family in Paraguay, was just the nicest. While last year I off-ed a chicken for our Thanksgiving celebration, a Turkey seemed out of my league. I didn't trust myself to be able to kill it at all, let alone swiftly and humanely. So the family kindly offered to help.
They then brought in reinforcements. Apparently none of our sellers were strong enough to end the beast either. They needed a young strapping man to do the job. Enter the neighbors. Next thing I knew the whole neighborhood was watching the spectacle, wondering who were these American girls, and why do they need a turkey?
Finally our assassin showed up. I could barely hold this thing up with two hands, but homeboy thought nothing of it. He grabbed the feet with one hand, and the neck with another, and went to work.
Despite the inglorious end, it was now time to clean the bird. Again, I have chicken experience, but this the size increase seemed to make it a whole 'nother beast. I decided however that the least I could do is get my hands dirty and help out. So Julia and I plucked the feathers, and I helped clean out the innards along side the matriarch of the family. This process is messy. My hands were covered with blood, and well, let's just call it 'goop'. It is impressive just how much is in there. A continuous parade of tubes, and organs cascaded out of the bird, and there always seemed to be just a little more.
Most of the innards, and the feet were given to the various animals hanging around, but the family was generous enough to give Julia and I the gizzards, neck, and head. As a token of my appreciation I tried to let them have these treasures but they couldn't bear the thought of a turkey dinner with out the head. - WHAT THE HELL DOES SOMEONE DO WITH A TURKEY HEAD? - I fed it to the street dogs outside my house.
|We drink to you Mr. Turkey.|
The bird then got tossed in a brine to be grilled an eaten the next day. (I'll have highlights of the actual meal in a following post.) It was time to wash my hands, open a beer and order take out.
|Mo wants to help.|
The effort exerted to get my turkey gave it that much more value. I had earned my meal, and had put that much more love in the food. Yes, a factory farm turkey from the U.S. would be way more juicy, and tender, but my bird had character. It had wandered the field, and caroused with the ladies. It had lived.
I know that I'm not necessarily normal. When I began writing this post, I had hoped to create a macabre telling of an event most people wouldn't even imagine, but honestly, I had too much fun for that. Macabre doesn't describe the day. It was joyful. I laughed for most of it. I made new friends. I shared American Thanksgiving. And I learned something new. In sum, I felt good after.
|Definitely not normal.|