Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Short Story-Turkey Surprise

Published in The Post-Journal, What's Happening Western New York

Menu:  Roasted Wild Turkey, Mashed Potatoes & Homemade Gravy, Cornbread & Wild Rice Stuffing, Corn on the Cob.

Ummm...Sounds so good doesn't it? Well, let's "talk turkey".

One year I had the privilege to be involved in a very unique experience.  It was a first for all of us. The first wild turkey my boyfriend, Kevin had shot, a new stuffing recipe, the first crop of corn of the year in the stores. I should have expected...something.

I received the call at work. "Go get Josh," Kevin said excitedly, "I shot a turkey.  He can help me clean it."   I should have known I was in trouble when we first got there.  There lay the poor little gobbler-headless.  While my son and Kevin admired the poor creature and discussed the excellent hunting techniques involved in the kill, I wandered a little ways off.   I'm not a hunter, and even though I have been around hunters most of my life, I still don't feel very comfortable actually "meeting" my next meal.

While I was browsing through the trees, I spotted something blue lying in the leaves a few feet away.  "Oh good," I thought, "Bluejay feathers."  I walked over, bent down to pick up...the turkey's head.  "EEEyoo", I cried.  Then I looked around to make sure no one had noticed.  I non-chalantly walked back over to the guys and pretended to admire the turkey.

Okay, now came the part where we had to figure out how to clean it.  Well, obviously first we had to get the feathers off.  What  followed next was a 10 minute discussion on how to do just that.  Josh, Kevin and I all had different ideas, so we did the adult thing...called my grandma.  Grandma told us to dunk the turkey in boiling water and the feathers would come right out.  She was right, they did, all over my clothes, the table, Josh, Kevin, the cats...  Then the wind decided to kick up and help us out by blowing the rest of the feathers all over the place. Hopefully the neighbors didn't notice the feathers in their trees.

We got that step done and Kevin had the honor of removing all the lovely things inside a turkey.  No, they aren't in a neat little white bag like the ones in the store.  He was "game" about it and with alot of  "This is disgusting" from Josh, and a few "Don't you ever shoot another turkey!" from me, we cleaned it up, rinsed it off and I took it home to put into my freezer until Sunday.  We planned a real nice dinner with Kevin and I, his son Chalan and my son Josh.

Picture this...a log cabin in the woods on a sunny afternoon. The turkey is cooking.... it smells so-o-o good.  The corn is bubbling away on the stove, the potatoes are mashed and waiting for the gravy. Absolute perfection, right? It should have been....

We finished up the details of the meal and while Kevin carved the turkey, I made the gravy (only a little lumpy) and we sat down to dinner. We all helped ourselves to the food and dug in to eat.

Remember, this was our first taste of wild turkey. It was good, similar to tame turkey, but a little "wilder" tasting. I buttered my corn and took a big bite. I love corn, and we all know how wonderful that first ear of corn tastes.  I looked over at Kevin with a smile in my eyes, the corncob in my mouth and he said with a grin..."You have a worm on your corn."  I suppose Chalan really didn't mind the corn I spit at him. I'm just thankful that it was a whole worm.

Being the good sport I am, I just threw that cob away and bravely took another one.  I checked this one really really well.  With the worm memory still kind of fresh, I took a bite of the mashed potatoes.  Musty.  I had just bought them the day before!  What was this, a jinxed meal??  Well, with all that to contend with, we finished up eating, complimented the cook (which wasn't me) and that should be the end of the story.    Wrong.

Kevin was slicing off some more breast meat to send home with Chalan, when he called me over. "Do you know what this is?" he asked.  It was some dark jelly looking stuff near the breast.  "I have no idea", I said, "just don't cut into it." We didn't know, maybe it was supposed to be there.

The next day I received a phone call at my office from the turkey hunter himself, laughing hysterically.  At first he wouldn't tell me what was so funny. "You know that jelly-looking stuff we found in the turkey?" he asked.  "Yes...." I said hesitantly, with this funny feeling in my stomach.  I should have known I was in trouble by this time, but being the optimist I am, I let him go on.  "It was full of... " more hysterical laughter, "parts of grasshoppers, little red berries and grass." "Oh..." I said, "Grasshoppers???  Parts???"  Flashbacks of the worm danced through my head.

By this point I was laughing.  None of us had thought to remove the gizzard when we cleaned the turkey.  How were we to know???  I suppose my grandma thought one of us dummies would have had sense enough to take it out.

Menu: Roasted Wild Turkey garnished with Grasshoppers and Berries, Cornbread  & Wild Rice Stuffing, Musty Mashed Potatoes with Home-made Lumpy Gravy, Corn on the Cob with Freshly Boiled Worms.

Well, at least the poor turkey had his last meal ...and the last laugh.


  1. Excellent story Terry, Don't feel bad, I've known women who didn't ralize they had to take the bag of stuff out of a store bought turkey.

  2. Terry, I love it! Great story. I would say I am said I missed it, but... sounds like a bit yucky LOL


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