Fat's in the fire for family of folks who fry the turkey

November 05, 1997|By Rob Kasper

BOSTON CALLED Baltimore to talk about developments in Memphis that could change the agenda for the meeting in Kansas City.

The issue being discussed was how the turkey was going to be cooked at our family's Thanksgiving gathering.

This exchange was symptomatic, I think, of the kind of discussions that occur among families in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Members of the family often have varying ideas of what should be on the table. So in the days leading up to the feast, phone calls are made, letters are written, pitches are made. The nation talks turkey.

The other day, for instance, my older brother, representing the Boston branch of the tribe, called me, the Baltimore representative, to pitch a turkey-cooking idea he got from our aunt in Memphis.

It seems that the Memphis contingent -- our aunt, our uncle and a batch of cousins -- have adopted the practice of deep-fat frying the turkey. This process involves injecting the bird with seasoning, then deep-fat frying the turkey in a vat of bubbling oil. Members of the Memphis contingent engage in this practice so frequently that they have purchased a deep-fat fryer. Reports had reached Boston that the deep-fat-fried turkey had moist meat, terrific skin and an overall pleasing flavor.

So Boston was pitching Baltimore to go along with the notion of giving the Thanksgiving turkey served in Kansas City the Memphis treatment.

Baltimore balked, for several reasons.

First, there was the equipment issue. The Kansas City kitchen didn't have a deep-fat fryer.

No problem, replied Boston, there are fryers for hire -- businessmen in Kansas City who fry fowl for money. But, Baltimore countered, fetching the bird on Thanksgiving would require getting up early, getting into a car and driving to the site of the bubbling oil. All this driving could cut into the time set aside, by family tradition, for sitting in soft chairs and watching televised football games.

This point gave Boston pause. Baltimore quickly brought out its big arguments -- stuffing and aroma. Baltimore noted that fried turkeys don't have stuffing inside them. And Boston had to agree with Baltimore that eating the stuffing from inside a turkey delivers inner peace.

Moreover, Baltimore said, if the turkey were cooked off the premises, the homestead wouldn't smell right. Everyone knows that on Thanksgiving a home is supposed to be filled with the aroma of turkey roasting in the oven.

Baltimore's objections seemed to cool the Boston proposal. But Boston can be persistent. It could call the delegations flying into Kansas City from San Francisco and Portland, Ore., and encourage them to push for a fried bird.

But Baltimore is ready for this possibility. To make sure that the turkey at this year's family gathering is roasted in the oven, a style once described as "Grandma-cooked," the Baltimore office called headquarters in Kansas City, the site of the feast.

Boston, Memphis, San Francisco, Portland and Baltimore may have theories about how the family turkey should be prepared, but Kansas City has the cook. After all the talking has stopped, chances are real good that this year's bird, like those in years past, will be "Grandma-cooked."

Pub Date: 11/05/97

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