Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bringing The Bird Home

THANKSGIVING... is at the top of the list of special occasions I did not want to miss when moving to Italy.   But where in the Veneto to obtain a turkey?   I had never seen a whole turkey in any market.  One could walk all over Padova and not find one gobbler anywhere in the meat markets.  They don’t exist.  The closest thing would be a leg and thigh, attached, or you can also buy breast of turkey.   Italians do not  eat a whole turkey, never see them, and they do not roast them or cook them whole.   I knew they had turkeys, just not whole ones.

I began to look harder.  My quest was successful after I questioned my local macellaio (butcher) if he could provide a whole turkey.    I began a long explanation, recounting the history of Thanksgiving in America.   He smiled and told me that my request could be met, and what date would I want to pick it up.  Thanksgiving was a go!

I described the size I needed, and this is important because the ovens in Italy are smaller than the ones in America.  I also had to tell him NOT to cut it up as I wanted to cook it whole.

Invitations to my Italian friends were sent out and we began to make plans over the dishes we would prepare and what wine would be served.   We already had table decorations with turkeys on the napkins and a matching tablecloth.  I went to the cantina and  brought up the two cans of pumpkin, two cans of condensed milk and one can of cranberry relish.  All these had been brought over in my baggage from the states.    We were set!  It was going be fun!  Thanksgiving in Italy.

The day to pick up the turkey arrived quickly and we drove over to bring our bird home.  Bear in mind that there are no frozen birds, this one would be fresh.
Smiling at my macellaio, but worried that he forgot our turkey, I announced I was ready to take possession.  He disappeared through the refrigeration door and came out carrying the hugest turkey I had ever seen.. It resembled a small baby!  Well, almost!
Take a look..
Comedian Butchers

All I could say, was I thought I ordered a smaller one!  Panic City!  While having some discussion about the size, my mind is quickly calculating and visualizing a possible buttering the turkey to squeeze it into the oven.  Having no other choice, we took the bird and after placing it into the pan we found that parts would not have to be removed.  Thankfully it just fit, but just barely, not touching the roof or side of the oven.

The hungry guests began to arrive and I greeted them from my second story window, with a big smile and a "Benvenuti"!  The first thing they wanted to do after removing their scarves and coats was to view the bird in the oven.  Turned to a shiny nice brown, it looked massive!  We took our seats, and they sampled some American appetizers, and discussed the holiday decorations while the bird was finishing .   We toasted Thanksgiving with a bottle of prosecco from my area of Colli Euganei and one of Soave from the village of Soave, near Verona,

Coming out of the oven, there were a lot of "ooos" and "ahhhhs"…None of us had ever seen such a big bird cooked and presented on a table.  It was a real feast not just for the stomach but for the eyes.  It was fun to watch the reaction.  There was a lot of good discussion about the history of Thanksgiving and what most of America does on Thanksgiving Day.  It was hard for them to understand that Thanksgiving is nearly as big a celebration as Christmas.   They had a hard time visualizing freezers chock full of turkeys in a Safeway store.  Italians have a difficult time visualizing lots about America, in particular, store sizes, choices and hours of being open. 

Now every year we have Thanksgiving, but we have it on a Sunday, because there is no Thursday vacation day here for the event.  Also to our relief, my macellaio now provides smaller turkeys.  

Happy Thanksgiving,
Dave

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