Thanksgiving is a time of family, friends, and loved ones. A time of celebration. A time of gratitude and rest. It’s also, of course, a time of food. And unfortunately, it is often a time of horrid, disgusting food, for which I am not grateful and which leaves me in a state of unrest and sorrow.
While I could turn my ire toward marshmallow-covered sweet potatoes (no thank you) or plain, cooked carrots (don’t get me started), I am actually generally not interested in yucking on someone else’s yum. If you sincerely like canned gravy, who am I to fault you? No, my beef is instead based around a concept and an aesthetic. My beef is with the apparent need of many to literally stuff beef, or fowl, or anything else, into the cavity of something else or to stuff the beef, or fowl, or anything else, with anything else. Stop this!!!!
The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving have forced this distaste to fully coalesce in my mind like jellied cranberry sauce because Thanksgiving is one of the worst perpetrators of stuffed foods. I’m speaking of course about the turducken (and its alt, the tofu turducken/torfucken) and the piecaken, two dishes that simply need not exist.
For a bit of evidence, let me quote Wikipedia: “The word turducken combines turkey, duck, and chicken. The dish is a form of engastration, which is a recipe method in which one animal is stuffed inside the gastric passage of another; twofold in this instance.” Think on that for a moment and then tell me why humans are doing this. Stuffing itself (aka dressing) is already pushing it—it’s better when you cook it separately!!!—and the turducken at this point is just an exercise in excess for the sake of excess.
To be totally clear, this tirade is not about the dumplings of the world, or empanadas, or like, stuffed peppers. These things are all good and fine and welcome. It’s not even about stuffed crust pizza or the beautifully demented creations like the Taco Bell® Stuffed Quesadilla Tacos™, both of which have their place in the culture and in our guts. The gamification of food can be fun and fruitful, but the impulse to shove one food inside another can take a left turn into the unholy very quickly if you’re of a sicko persuasion, which clearly many people are. It’s often a classic case of doing it for the gram, at the expense of making something actually good.
Such an impulse, in my estimation, is both extremely American and not American at all. Us Yanks relish in taking stuff to a disgusting limit, but as an avid viewer of The Great British Bake Off, I’m all too familiar with the fact that British people frickin’ love stuffing one food into another food and the turducken itself, while possibly originating in Louisiana, has a French predecessor, the rôti sans pareil, which is 17 birds stuffed inside each other. As a bird blog, we cannot abide. In any case, this phenomena is an inherited, maybe even universal one. It must end. Is my repulsion a form of trypophobia? Perhaps.
Oreos baked inside other cookies? Hamburgers stuffed with macaroni and cheese? Pies baked into a cake?? We don’t need to do this to ourselves. This Thanksgiving, and always, let’s let things be what they are. If you’d like your turkey with a side of chicken, make a turkey and a chicken. You are not a hunter on a long journey, you have a stove and time to plan! And if you insist on making a turducken and posting it on Instagram, please know that I will be muting you forever.