Gobble’s Turkey Nipples
My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor.
The school district I moved to in Seattle had a lot more time off school than I could have ever imagined in Alabama. One day when I was home alone on a “holiday” I thought I would help out by making dinner. How hard could it be? I would make a nice dinner and mom and dad would be surprised and realize how adult I was and let me get that tattoo I wanted. This plan was perfect. The super cool tattoo would lead to my discovery as a supermodel and my best friend was going to be Nikki Taylor. I had it all written down in a Lisa Frank notebook, I kept all my best laid plans in there.
We had a Turkey in the refrigerator for some reason; it was not Thanksgiving or even near it because I remember the windows being open. Still we had this Turkey. I read all the writing on the wrapper, well most of it. I calculated how long it had to sit in the oven to cook, cut the wrapper off, dumped the huge bird on a foil lined baking sheet, and then covered the carcass of this poor animal in whatever barbeque sauce we were using at the time. We had recently discovered the beauty of Costco (as a Sam’s Club replacement) so we HAD some barbeque sauce. Industrial sized bottles of Barbeque sauce. If I recall correctly Butterball took about one and a half of those bottles. I did have to coat him inside and out, for fullness of flavor. I did not want to touch his insides; I felt that was just too personal and moving way to fast with a male, dead and of the fowl variety or not, I did not really feel comfortable with it. So I just squirted the sauce into the Turkey cavity with a baster; that is what it is for right? Then I carefully put the Turkey who I had now named Gobble, because we were gonna gobble him up, into the oven. I nearly dropped him twice. I succeeded the third time when I checked his temperature and “turkey popper upper”; more sauce and no one knew the difference. I did mop up, so no harm done. (Seriously is there a technical word/term for the turkey done popper upper thingy?)
I even went on and baked a cake! It was green, with green icing that I had “piped” onto the cake using the corner of a Ziploc bag. You can do that in a pinch, Martha Stewart showed me how once on her show. The only food coloring in the house was green… so… (I think when my parent’s saw the cake the fear of dill slipped into their minds but they never said a word.
I sat them all down at the table and situated his Lordship in his booster seat. Then I presented the BBQ Turkey…. I do not remember what “veggie” I served. It did not really matter I had this incredible, nearly purple with sauce huge Tom Turkey. The weight of this Turkey was staggering and caused my prance into the room, with this platter of turkey-liciousness, to be less than fabulous. Instead of swaggering into the room with the air of Julia Child and Martha Stewart; I staggered into the room with all the dignity of one of those circus plate balancing acts… drunk.
The response I got from my parents was one of shock but not because I had prepared such an amazing, albeit a bit burnt around the edges, turkey, but because I HAD prepared a turkey, a roaster turkey, with barbeque sauce. The turkey was clearly done though, because the pop up turkey nipple was sticking out; I left it in for effect. My thought was it showed my gift as a chef that I actually got the pop up Turkey nipple, to pop up. I have now declared this the new technical term for the turkey done popper upper thingy.
TURKEY NIPPLE think about it, it is all flat and cold when pull the frigid beast/beastette out of the box of chill (whether it be the freezer or refrigerator) you have to undress it. It is into some kind of kinky latex thing and then wants you to cook it, literally punishing it and occasionally spraying it with hot liquids. Then and only then will the Turkey Nipple pop up; farmed turkeys are known to be raging lunatic morons, they will literally drown in the rain by watching the water fall out of the sky, but in my expert opinion they have a serious nymphomania problem, the lot of them.
Somehow I interpreted the look of sheer shock on my parent’s faces as awe and delight. His Lordship was still preschool age at the time and I do not recall him registering anything off beat about this specific production of “Amanda has cooked something AMAZING”. Silence filled the tiny “breakfast nook” where we took our meals. I was far too young to have really worked out that the turkey nipple never really works yet so, why were they not praising my accomplishment? I had made a damn turkey. All you ever see on television is people complaining about how hard it is to impress your in-laws with turkey…
Here I was an awkward, gangly, buck toothed, with glasses thick enough to see Jupiter and with frames in a size to rival Sally Jesse Raphael’s; I was deep into the middle of my leggings and stirrup pants phase of the early 1990’s… I was nowhere near in-laws… Hell I was nowhere near boys and yet I had made this glorious turkey covered in Barbeques sauce. I carefully sat the platter in the middle of the table and handed my dad the carving knives.
It was then and there that I learned some things that only confirmed my choice not to feel up this bird whilst preparing it. My brother may not have been very old but he was aware of anatomy, so when my father pulled out the turkey neck from inside the turkey he hollered out in his best little southern drawl “turkey gots a penis”!
I may have gotten past the cursing years before but to my knowledge I had never even kissed a boy other than my dad and my brother and as far as I was concerned at that point neither of those counted for anything. The most boyfriend I had ever had was back in Miss Brandt’s class when a “husky” kid named Shane with a bad cow lick and aviator style glasses (not sunglasses) stole a stuffed seal from his younger sibling and gave it to me wrapped in the industrial Lutheran School toilet paper and taped with that medical tape they kept in our gym bathroom.
Remember when you could call kids husky and it was not really bad or anything. It was not going to damage their psyche or make them serial killers because you referred to their bigger bones as a large and powerful animal. Now we would rather make them anorexic then refer to their section of clothes as “husky”. What do they want kids to do? Oh I know they want them to wear things that don’t fit and thus the world is now dominated by “muffin tops”. Do not even get me started on how we dress little girls as hookers, pump their milk full of steroids, and teach nothing but abstinence in school, and then question why teenage pregnancy rates are so high. I cannot blame everything on the Jersey Shore but those kids came from somewhere… well I think that “Situation” guy just appeared one day on the planet. I don’t know for sure, but that cannot be God or evolution at work.
Either way in 1992 or thereabouts I was not ready for a physical relationship for a turkey so I did not stick my hand in the “cavity”. I guess I got caught up in the calculations to make sure I didn’t kill my family to worry about giant turkey penis necks being left inside a turkey. His lordship was most disturbed that this poor “MAN” turkey had been deprived of his most important bits. His little self was standing on his little chair doing that toddler foot shuffle shouting that someone had cut the turkey’s PP off and then made him swallow it! Once the trauma was reduced by my father explaining that it was the neck of the turkey, not exactly THAT much more comforting but better than penis all day long. The bag of guts followed; my father said that next time I wanted to cook a whole bird I needed to empty it first.
Shit. Like this was ever happening again.
Then the questions about the “sauce” began. Apparently barbequed turkey is not a delicacy in any country except Renaissance festivals and state fairs, and then only on the giant turkey legs of those nations. (Seriously have you ever, EVER, seen a turkey drumstick that size anywhere but a fair?)
I recall now that I had made rice, the one thing I had seen done a lot and felt pretty comfortable with. It was crunchy. There was so much Barbeque sauce inside Gobble that it looked as though he were bleeding. Crunchy rice, bleeding turkey, and the trauma of a tortured penis swallowing Butterball meant we ate out for a few nights.
I have never made another Turkey.