Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

November 24, 2013

Ed Hungness: Turkey isn't thankful, but rest of us are

Once in awhile, a President of the United States makes a proclamation that everyone is happy with. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving an official national holiday.

Prior to signing it into law, Americans unofficially celebrated the fall harvest and bountiful food supply as far back as the 1700s. The purpose was not a day of endless football watching or pre-Christmas spending sprees, but to give thanks to God for all that He provides. Unfortunately, some of the original intent has been lost over the years.

One thing, thankfully, that hasn’t changed is the star of the Thanksgiving table — the turkey. Supporting cast members include stuffing, green bean casseroles, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, gravy and pumpkin pies. But what would Thanksgiving be without a plump, steaming, golden-brown, oven-roasted turkey sitting smack-dab in the middle of the dining room table?

Why turkey and not something else you ask?

Turkeys were elevated to the center of the plate quite frankly because they were less expensive than chickens. Chickens held more value because they laid an egg almost every day. Farmers, country folk and city slickers all enjoyed their bacon and egg breakfasts. Naturally, eggs were used in the preparation of many other dishes.

Why kill the chicken that laid the lovable egg? A roasted chicken represents but one meal, but a live chicken is the gift that keeps on giving at the rate of one egg per day. It should be noted that the roosters did not enjoy the same immunity as the more valuable hens.

The turkey is considerably bigger than a chicken and can feed everyone sitting around the crowded Thanksgiving table. Can you imagine having 10 guests for dinner and placing one three pound oven-roasted chicken in the center of the table? Your hungry guests might decline your next invitation.

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