In my first post, Lessons from my Kitchen, I mentioned a spectacular near-disaster on Thanksgiving 2012, and promised to write about it at a later date. That date has come, my friends. I am now here to tell you about the The Turkey That Almost Wasn’t of Thanksgiving 2012.
It was my first Thanksgiving meal. Not the first one I’d eaten, mind you, but the first one I was hosting and cooking myself. And boy, was I organized. Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the first Monday in October, and on the Tuesday before, I called up my local supermarket to order a small fresh turkey to be picked up on Monday morning. “Oui madame!” No problem. The following day, I called back to confirm the order and to make sure they had specified “fresh” not “frozen.” “Mais oui, oui madame, aucun problème.” Brilliant! And so I set to cooking.
Over the next few days I made applesauce, cranberry sauce, pumpkin muffins, prepared stuffing, and a lentil and sweet potato casserole for my one vegetarian guest. It was a frenzied few days of cooking, and on Sunday evening I picked up the phone to call the supermarket and ask what time the turkey would be ready for pick up. “Oh, around 9:00am, madame.” Perfect.
Monday morning, Thanksgiving day. My guests are coming at 1:00pm. It’s ten minutes past nine and I’m at the butcher counter of my local IGA.
IGA butcher: “Mais madame, nous n’avons pas de dindes fraîches!” (“But madam, we don’t have any fresh turkeys!”) “In fact, we’re not getting any deliveries today! The only turkeys we have are these frozen ones over here.”
Let us pause for a moment and picture a look of horror, mixed with rage and incredulity. Got it? Good. Moving on.
Me: “WHATDOYOUMEANYOUDON’THAVEMYTURKEYIORDEREDITLASTWEEKIWANTTOSPEAKWITHTHEMANAGER!!!” and so on. While waiting for the manager to find a solution, I have located a butcher shop not too far from my home and have managed to secure a 6kg (13lbs) turkey–the smallest available.
Manager: “Madame, we will have someone go fetch your turkey and bring it special delivery. It should be here by 11:00.” Fine. I cancel the 6kg turkey with the other butcher shop, go home, put my apple crisp in the oven, call my friends and reschedule for later in the day. They’re very understanding.
Eleven o’clock has me back at the supermarket, all anticipation.
IGA butcher: “Voici votre dinde, madame!” Here is your turkey. And he hands me a frozen turkey.
Let’s pull up that face again, shall we? Good.
Me: “Qu’est-ce que vous voulez que je fasse avec ceci, monsieur? J’ai des invités CET APRES-MIDI!!” What do you want me to do with this, sir? I have guests THIS AFTERNOON!!!
IGA idiot–ah, I mean butcher: “Ah well, you should have ordered it ahead of time, madame!” This is where I practically lost it.
Me: “I DID order my turkey last week. I called once to order and the next day to confirm. Go. Find. My. Order. Sheet.”
While he’s in the back, I manage to contact that other butcher shop again. “Sure, we still have the turkey. Of course we can hold it for you. But for no more than half an hour, ma’am.” The disgraced IGA butcher comes out from the back looking horribly sheepish, holding a sheet of paper in his hand.
Him: “I found your order, madame. It got lost under some papers and was never filled. I am terribly sorry.”
It is at this point that my rage becomes too much for me, and instead of yelling, I look at him with huge eyes which well up with tears, which then start streaming down my face. He sees this, wrings his hands and says, “Shit.” That’s right, buddy. You made me cry.
Quickly wiping away my tears, I race back up the hill, toting my grocery cart behind me. Huffing and puffing, I realize by the time I get 1/4 of the way to the other shop that I will never make it in time. Thinking quickly, I hop on a public bicycle, throw my ungainly cart over the handle bars and go peddling across the Plateau like a madwoman, my cart teetering and my jacket flapping open behind me in the wind.
Several illegal traffic maneuvers later, I’m at the Portuguese butcher shop.
Me: “I’m here for the 6kg turkey.”
Butcher: “Six kilos? Ma’am, this bird is at least eight!”
My jaw hits the counter.
Me: “Eight kilos??? (That’s 17.5lbs) What am I going to do with all this turkey??”
Butcher: “How many guests are you having?”
Uproarious laughter from the butcher and the man behind me in line.
Me: “And one’s a vegetarian.”
I thought I had nearly killed them, they were laughing so hard.
When he recovered, the butcher very kindly cleaned and emptied the bird, and gave me a quick lesson on trussing it. The man behind me in line said, “Don’t stuff it. It’ll take too long to cook. Put your stuffing in a casserole dish and warm it for the last 30 minutes.” What a kind, kind man.
I wish for the sake of a good visual I could say that I threw the bird back on the handlebars of the bike and biked home, but it was just too heavy and my cart was too awkward. But I did rush home with an ENORMOUS bird in my grocery cart. (Did I mention that the oven was preheating back at the house this whole time? Yeah, there’s that.)
I got home, trussed it up, seasoned it, brushed it with my mother’s marinade and threw it into the oven. That’s when I called my mom on Skype and emptied my tear ducts out of sheer frustration. But now that the damn thing was in the oven, the humor of the situation was already dawning on me. My mom was kind enough to restrain herself from completely guffawing, but she couldn’t help let a few giggles escape. By the time she finished giving me her last advice, we were both giggling.
At 5:00pm the turkey came out of the oven, and after having to practically rip apart the aluminum roasting pan it was in (and nearly giving myself a hernia in the process), it was ready to present to my guests in all its glory.
The turkey and all the side dishes were absolutely scrumptious. As were the leftovers Chico and I ate for the next three months.