Nov 24, 2011

The Most Challenging Day of the Year

I've mentioned before that I grew up in an obsessively frugal family (I didn't think so at the time, but I do in hindsight). One of the results of that childhood was to make me a little crazy at Thanksgiving. Of all the dinners over the course of a year, this is the one that used to let me give free rein to my penny-pinching impulses.

If you are a committed (or soon to be committed) moral/spiritual vegetarian, you should probably stop reading at the sound of the next period.

It starts with the giblets. No-one else in my family will eat the turkey giblets, not even if they've been pureed and incorporated into the gravy. The idea of throwing them out is anathema. I could justify giving all but the neck to the cat or dog if we had one, but I'm allergic to cats, and we haven't adopted a new dog since Penny died a few years ago. So I make up two batches of gravy. One for me and one for everyone else.

Just that little snippet should let you extrapolate as to how I got myself so fat. But there's more.

Few people in the house, or for that matter in either side of our originating families, eat dark meat. I eat it by preference because the skin is nice and crispy and to keep it from being wasted. Then, after dinner, when all of the remaining white meat has been sliced packaged and refrigerated, I take the carcass and the remaining dark meat and make a huge pot of turkey soup. If there are leftover turnips, potatoes, and squash, they go into the pot as well.

Do I really need to tell you who eats all that soup? No, I thought not.

But if I didn't do that, it would be wasted, and it's hard for me to get past the early training that waste is a sin.

I don't know where this next thought came from. Perhaps it was my early experiences on a farm, or perhaps it was something I read that stuck with me, or perhaps it is a philosophy I developed early on the genesis of which I have forgotten.

I don't have any ethical qualms about eating animals (well ... except octopus. But that's a discussion for another time).

I do have ethical qualms about taking the life of another creature and discarding all but a tiny portion of it. We don't have to go as far as the bushmen who apologize to their prey at some great length, but if we  take another creature's life to fuel our own, we should at least give it the respect to use all of its usable parts.

It shocks me to see the statistics on how much food is discarded by supermarkets, but I don't expect corporations to have a conscience. No matter what the Supreme Court says, corporations are not people. It horrifies me even more to see the amount of waste generated by individuals who blithely discard enough food to keep a family of five going for a week just because it involves a little extra effort or because they don't like dark meat quite as much as white.

Can you see why Thanksgiving tends to be a trial for me?

I have plenty to be thankful for and I'm not going to spoil the diner by ranting ... that's what a blog is for, after all. I'll just have to shut my mind off and deal with it graciously.

My dinner today will be the mock turkey seitan I made yesterday, with a vegetarian gravy and unbuttered vegetables. I'll start the final preparation in a few minutes, then box it up to take with me to the family gathering at Uncle Bob's house.

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