I have blogged before about my rotten childhood, and how I hated Thanksgiving because it was one of those few times a year my parents and I ate together, and my father usually teased me until I cried, and sometimes my mother was tipsy. Those days are long gone, and only a kind of unhappy memory at this point that has healed over trauma and begun to bore me. Towards the end, I used to have the meal at Kate's house, and then my first Thanksgiving after my mother died was at the FanTek house, which was all shades of awesome.
I'd love to regale you with some fantastic tale of science fiction about that dinner. Like maybe how the turkey was covered with Christmas lights, the stuffing had a sarlacc in it, we had Klingon qagh as a side dish, and we cut the turkey with a lightsaber. But it wasn't all that science-fictiony, really. It was a fairly normal pot luck affair on the huge table that we normally folded and printed "The Castle" on. The only sci-fi we had was the normal decor of the FanTek house.
Living at the house in November of 1987 were Bruce, Cheryl, Liska, Debbie, and myself. We invited Bruce's family over, and I think there were some other people, but I forget who, but I recall the total being around 8-12 people. Bruce has a nephew named Jamie who was 13 at the time, I think. "He likes to put ketchup on everything," he said. Bruce was prone to hyperbole about other people's actions, so I didn't pay that much attention to it. When we got the food, Bruce got Jamie his own bottle of ketchup.
The turkey was a story in itself. A few months previously, we were shopping for food at the Shopper's Food Warehouse on Rt 1, when some guy at a table asked us if we wanted to pre-order a turkey and save a lot of money, plus they came fresh from some farm and were not frozen ever. Bruce talked to the guy, and it seemed legit, so he asked, "How big do they go?" The guy didn't know. "Twenty pounds?" Bruce asked. "Sure," the guy said. Bruce looked at me, and spoke out some math about the number of guests and how much we expected them to eat, and arrived at 30 pounds somehow. "Can we order a 30 pound turkey?" he asked. The guy seemed a little skeptical, but said, "give it a try. You only pay by the pound when you pick it up, so if it's only 25, you only pay for 25 pounds." So Bruce put down:
I laughed. "That's a big turkey," Bruce said. I don't think we expected to get over 25 pounds. Our plan originally was to cook two turkeys, have one main turkey on the table, and a plate of stuff cut from the less presentable turkey.
A few weeks before Thanksgiving, we got a postcard that said our turkey would be available 2 days before thanksgiving, and it would not be frozen, so bring a cooler. On the card, it had some check boxes next to the weights in steps of 5. Ours was checked "other." We also got a call from SFW when it arrived. "Your 35 pound turkey is here." Liska had answered the phone, and said, "You mean 25 pound." "No, ma'am, 35."
Bruce and then picked up what was the largest damn turkey I had ever seen. "Wow!" he said, "It's really 35 pounds!" It didn't fit in the cooler we brought. We had to move shelves around in the fridge. That's when Liska, in shock, asked, "You think it will even fit in the oven?"
It did fit in the oven, barely, but did NOT fit a roasting pan. We had to take two disposable foil roasting pans and sort of fold-stitch them together. None of our cookbooks had instructions on how to cook a turkey of this size, they all pretty much ended at 25 pounds. Liska and Bruce were in charge of the cooking, and using their vast experience and chemical know-how, they figured out how to cook it fairly well. They also had extra time since they planned on cooking two turkeys anyway.
The turkey came out juicy. The meat practically fell off the bone. Nothing was under or overcooked. Both Liska and Bruce are accomplished masters of the kitchen, and this was no less than an achievement on their part.
And Bruce was right, Jamie *did* put ketchup on pretty much everything on his plate. Including the stuffing and yams.