There’s something about celebrating holidays that aren’t necessarily yours that makes them extra interesting. I’m still kind of torn about Thanksgiving all together. Sure, culturally, it’s one of those holidays that by this stage in my life feels pretty natural, but at the same time there’s still that little voice in the back of my head that’s always asking, “what does Thanksgiving Day even mean?” Digo, I can appreciate the idea of giving thanks and spending time with family, eating lots of good food, and being extra aware of the things that we normally take for granted. It’s a nice holiday. No doubt about that.

Where the uncertainty kicks in for me is the main course.

That centerpiece of any decent Thanksgiving Day meal. The extra large bird that has to be cooked just right. You can’t cook it for only a few hours and expect it to be succulent. You can’t rub it with just a couple of spices and call it a day. You have tend to the damn bird like it’s a freaking borrego or something. And there isn’t just one way to cook the almighty Thanksgiving Day turkey right either!

You can fry it in a deep frier. You can bake it, for hours in the oven. You can even wrap it with chicken and duck and call it a Turducken. If you’re curious about that last version here’s a blog post about it from by good friend Sandra. I have to confess I am quite curious about that version myself too. We haven’t had one for the big turkey day either.

Adding to my overall inner turmoil about this holiday is the fact that growing up we didn’t really start celebrating Thanksgiving Day until my dad started being sent home with a turkey every year from his job. We had it in tacos. We had it in mole. We made tamales with the turkey. We made guisado the next day with the leftovers. Tortas sometimes. And even huevo con pavo when we didn’t know what else to do with all the extra turkey sitting in the fridge.

Now if you know turkey, you know that day-old turkey just doesn’t taste all that great. It has a certain aftertaste that’s bitter and lingering in your mouth. Plus, we all know the best part of the turkey is the turkey breast, and any other white meat you can manage to find on this big bird. Even that meat tastes dry the next day when you try to heat it up and eat it as leftovers. I don’t know. The whole thing is just too complicated.

I am, however, a fan of deep-fried turkeys. I think it’s all the oil and butter that makes them taste just that much better than the non-deep-fried alternative.

Yet even after saying all of that – all of that drama – Thanksgiving just isn’t complete without a big fat turkey sitting in the middle of the dining room table. In our case, two or three of them, along with tamales, salsa de molcajete, cranberry sauce, tortillas, pico de gallo, potato salad, pumpkin and walnut pies, flan (sometimes), and even ponche if it’s cold enough outside.

Usually by the time we’re done eating I’m too full and sleepy to ask anymore questions.

Alright, now I’m ready for turkey day!

Getting ready for El Big Turkey Day!

Thanksgiving by Frank Lindecke.