I like stuff.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cluelessness: A refute.

Care to read one of the most pointless food articles ever? (no, I don't mean this one, but I guess your mileage may vary)

I just read this article from Slate called The Case Against Thanksgiving Leftovers

It was one of the biggest piles of tripe I've seen in a while.

But before I start off on some rant, let me take a moment to agree with the one salient point the author made: Yes, the "media" (whatever medium it takes) does tend to go overboard with trying to leverage seasonal curiosities with recent trends.

And after that, everything is basically wrong-headed.

Those stringy last bits of gristle and meat that cling to your bird are better suited to the raccoons who rummage through your garbage. Do you really want to morph the centerpiece of your most ceremonial meal of the year into turkey bundles (stuffed with turkey, cream cheese, dill weed, and water chestnuts, among other things)?

Anyone worth their salt in the kitchen knows that frugality does not equate to serving up cartilage or fatty bits in the name of sparing that last possible edible matter. If you're down to that point, no amount of herbs or seasoning or fillers are going to change anything, and I think you'd be hard-pressed for me to believe that while the economy isn't looking hopeful, there's few people willing to whittle down the carcass to that point, and I strongly suspect those that would aren't exactly the dill weed and water chestnut crowd.

But that's not to say that it's useless matter. Go make stock or broth from it (the differentiation relies largely on how long you were whittling things down), and even if you've only got a few bones left, consider freezing them until you've amassed a collection that would serve worthy of stock-making. It'll taste better than anything you find in the store, freezes nicely, and there's lots of articles all over the intarwebs giving solid advice on the subject. My only addition is to remind you that fats tend to latch on to stray particles, even in the freezer, so while you can do a lot to reduce the fat content in stock, be sure to keep things as air-tight as you can if you freeze 'em.

Reading through the rest of the article, it gets bogged down in suggesting that anything other than straight leftovers is a vast ad-revenue conspiracy, and then gets distracted from that by getting into animal husbandry.

No, really. Go read it. I'm not kidding.

Me, I've got absolutely no qualms with the idea of people experimenting in the kitchen trying to figure out how to use the last of whatever. It's reasonably thrifty. It gets people trying out ideas and figuring out what they like, hopefully with the mind of altering or improving upon the ideas. Many of those recipes are healthier than saying "Oh, screw it. I'll just go back to Taco Bell for their post-holiday blow-out of CranTurkeyChalupaDillas"

I get the feeling that the author hasn't had a well-prepared turkey, harping on how it's not a terribly tasty meat, it's natural dryness, etc. (Welcome to the wonderful world of brining, the same technique that's saved pork from being indistinguishable from cardboard)

But, the imagery suggests that weeks of planning, epic travels, and a general lack of imagination are argument enough for the premise.

I would recommend to the author that perhaps next year, the ideal menu would involve Chicken McNuggets, cutting out issues like availability, quality, or boredom (they do offer a selection of dipping sauces, after all.)

Me, I'd say go look up recipes. Try them out. Play with them. Find out what you like and what you don't and work from there.

It's the first step towards food-hacking, and as far as I'm concerned, a much better goal to strive for.


Sparkling Red said...

Urgh. Turkey Bundles sound completely disgusting. If you want to get mileage out of your bird, my grandmother had a good way. She used to crack her chicken bones in half and suck out the marrow. Mmmm... marrow...

Anonymous said...

I could not get too fa into the article. When it started preaching I began to zone.

Your entry is far better! And you have a way with a phrase. I laughed about the dill crowd.

My father and mother have always been "healthy" eaters and I cannot remember when our leftovers made it past the Thanksgiving weekend. Most years they did not make it past that night.

That being said, a turkey potato samosa actually sounds good.

Nice rant and fun to read too.