It is almost Thanksgiving and one of my favorite meals of the year. I have always loved Thanksgiving and all the foods that go along with it. As a child it was also the beginning of the Christmas season and the Christmas catalogue would arrive right after Thanksgiving. That was a magical time; sitting and looking at all the new toys in the catalogue and circling the ones I wanted Santa to bring to me.
But the best part of Thanksgiving Day was getting to go to Grandmother’s house for dinner and of course to see all my cousins. Grandmother’s house was very small and the cousins and I spent a lot of our time outside so we weren’t in trouble for making to much noise.
The cousins usually didn’t arrive with my Aunts and Uncles until just before lunch so I was able to spend time in the kitchen with Grandmother and my mother while they worked on the dinner. Grandmother always baked the Turkey; she had baked pumpkin and mince meat pies a day ahead so they were ready to cut. Grandmother and I were the only ones that liked the mince meat so I didn’t have to worry about not getting a piece of that.
My favorite part of the turkey was always the liver and the gizzard. So I stayed in the kitchen until she took the turkey out of the oven to get the giblets out of the pan so she could add them to the dressing. I always grabbed one of them before it got into the dressing but she didn’t seem to mind too much.
When the food that each family brought was placed on the table and ready for the adults to sit down, the kids filled their plates and disappeared into the bedroom to crawl up on the stacked mattresses for our lunch. (Grandpa had to take apart their bed because the tables needed the space in their bedroom that was probably supposed to be the dining room.) That was always a fun time for the cousins to be able to eat by ourselves.
I’ve always preferred the dark meat of the turkey so I never had to fight for the meat that I wanted to eat. I think most of the adults preferred the white meat but some of them must have ended up with dark, because no matter how large a turkey Grandmother fixed there couldn’t have been enough white meat to feed them all.
I can still remember the platter of turkey meat piled high with white meat and dark meat. At one end of the large platter of sliced white and dark turkey meat laid the turkey neck. I never had the nerve to ask why it was on the platter but I always wondered why it was placed there with the good meat.
One year when I went back for seconds of turkey and had to fight my way in amongst the adults at the long table I found out why the neck was always on the platter of meat. To my horror my Grandmother was sitting at the end of the table nibbling on that ugly turkey neck.
To me the neck looked gross but she seemed to be enjoying it. I asked her one day, awhile after Thanksgiving, why she had been eating the neck of the Turkey and not some of the good meat. She said that was the piece that she liked.
But there wasn’t much meat on one of those skinny and bony necks that I could see. I wonder now if that was the only piece that was left when her kids were growing up. It also made me wonder if she chewed on the neck of a chicken when she fried chicken for the family.
I have never had the nerve to try a turkey neck to see if it is as wonderful as my Grandmother thought it was. I am happy eating the dark meat that most people don’t want. Turkey and of course mincemeat pie, are the two foods that make Thanksgiving for me and set the mood for the Christmas holiday. They always bring back memories of my Grandmother and the family dinners.
If anyone can tell me why my Grandmother always ate the Thanksgiving turkey neck I would love to hear from you. Then I will finally know why she loved it so much.
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