by missfootloose on December 27, 2010 · 24 comments

in Expat foodie, Food, traditions

If you’re a turkey you’re not lucky if you live in the United States. Around the world, Christmas celebrations usually involve a big, fancy meal, and in the US this often means turkeys and/or hams find their way onto the table, all tarted up for the occasion.  I’m sure you’ve all seen the wonderful artsy images in food magazines and on TV cooking shows, so I will not add to this plethora of culinary photos. I’m sure you’re grateful. Instead, here’s a proud, live specimen

This Christmas I had planned to escape the winter for a bit and be in East Timor, a tiny, tropical island nation in the Pacific Ocean, at the end of the world. Beaches, coconut palms, and no snow whatsoever.  You know what I mean. But, alas, it was not to be, and I spent Christmas instead in the US, where I had . . . turkey and ham (along with lots of other wonderful food.)  Allow me to show you the turkey. It’s not a pretty sight, rather humiliating for the turkey, but fortunately he was not aware of the undignified manner in which he was prepared for the table.

Deep-Fried Turkey. Only in America (I think).

Deep-fried turkey seems to be a typical American invention (let me know if I am wrong and they’re torturing turkey carcasses this way in your corner of the globe as well). Apparently deep-fried turkey originated in the southern US, where deep-frying is a way of life. In the last few years it has become a new fad in the rest of the country, probably because Americans are always looking for a new way of doing things. Just roasting a turkey in the oven is so boring, don’t you agree?

As you can see, deep-frying a big beast is not something you want to do in your kitchen, but not to worry.  Capitalism to the rescue. Turkey frying kits are now available for sale, if not for the loose change in your pocket.  And soon, I expect, some entrepreneur will offer a dedicated storage shed in your choice of colors to keep it in until next Christmas.

On the photo above you will notice on the top a clothes hanger. I am not sure it was part of the original kit, but it seemed to work and all went well and nobody got burned or cooked along with the unfortunate fowl.

Let me close this by saying the turkey was fabulous, and that I hope all of you had a wonderful meal as well, with or without turkey.

* * *

If you had a traditional, celebratory dinner this week, what was it? Anything fun or unusual?

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Aledys Ver December 28, 2010 at 4:39 am

That’s a funny sight! 😀 Poor turkey!!! I would never have thought that there existed something like deep-frying a whole big bird like that! Oh dear…. what’s the average cholesterol level of the Southern American? 😀
Too bad you could not have your warm Christmas in East Timor….


missfootloose January 3, 2011 at 10:31 am

Because the temperature of the fat is so high, it immediately sscorches the skin so no fat can come inside the meat of the bird, but it keeps in all the juices that might otherwise drip out of the bird with a slow roasting in the oven. So it is said. It did taste very nice! Still, it’s not what I want to mess with, but you no men 😉


Barbara December 28, 2010 at 2:35 pm

There’s a European-owned fancy meat shop here in Arusha, Tanzania and they were advertising turkeys for Thanksgiving. I went in to order one, but they wanted $90 for a 6-kilo turkey!! Something about it being imported from Kenya and having more breast meat than a local turkey. Anyway, I gave up on the idea of turkey for Thanksgiving.


missfootloose January 3, 2011 at 10:35 am

I once bought an imported American turkey while living in Ghana. It costs a fortune! Needless to say there is no law saying you can’t make a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner using other foods. I tried goose one time, but the kids weren’t happy, culinary heathens that they were.


GutsyWriter December 29, 2010 at 11:57 am

I am so glad you’ve finally explained the secret to deep frying a turkey. Now I see we have to get another gadget for that. however, I’m not at all tempted, especially not with extra fat calories. Have you heard of the gadget that has a remote with an alarm attached to a meat thermometer? That way you can watch TV in peace, without lifting your butt to check on the “done-ness” of the meat.
I still think East Timor, swimming, snorkeling etc. would have been more fun for you and your husband.


missfootloose January 3, 2011 at 10:40 am

A remote? What a hoot! Business will find a way to sell all sorts of gadgetry which appeals to the guys in this case, I suppose. All that money to cook a twenty-dollar turkey! What a waste.

I will never be tempted to deep-fry a turkey, or most anything else, either.

Well, East Timor, I hear, is not a hopping place 😉


Blue Bus Barb December 29, 2010 at 2:07 pm

TOO funny, Karen! I had my first deep fried turkey this Thanksgiving and a turkey cooked this way is fired up with loads of testosterone zeal…personally , I think it might have been a mom’s way out of doing this part of the dinner menu!


missfootloose January 3, 2011 at 10:41 am

Oh, yes, it takes testosterone to do this type of cooking! The guys like a big show!


MaryWitzl December 29, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Deep fried turkey has to rank up there with deep fried pizza and Mars bars, both of which are popular in Scotland. Turkey skin already has plenty of fat in it, so sure, just deep fry it and increase the calories exponentially!

For God’s sake, keep this away from the Scots. It’s bad enough here as it is.


missfootloose January 3, 2011 at 10:48 am

Well, it may not make it to Scotland, their reputation of being stingy saving them from this 😉 These turkey fryers cost a small fortune.

I keep wondering what else the Americans will come up with next to feed the insationable need for something new or “better.” I think they call that progress 😉


Philly Girl Abroad December 30, 2010 at 2:59 am

Love the article and the comments! Your turkey looks super lekker!

I missed having a real turkey this year. A dear friend brought me three ButterBall Boneless Turkey Roasts from the local US milliary base. They were awful, awful, awful! A full 20% of the weight was saline solution. Next year I pay the 90 Euros for a real turkey.


missfootloose January 3, 2011 at 10:53 am

90 euros for a turkey?? Sorry to hear you were disappointed with the water-bloated Butterball affairs. It’s the problem I have with American ham – all that water, and then it tastes sweet because of having been cured with sugar or honey. I suppose if you grow up with it you don’t know any different, but I sure do love non-sweet, non-waterbloated European ham.

Hope your European turkey will be worth the money!


maria altobelli December 30, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Good Lord, Miss Footloose, what will people think of next? Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think you could deep fry a turkey. It looks delicious but I shudder to think of the calories.

I decided to get a turkey this year (turkey is only seen at Christmastime in Mexico-dead that is) and used a recipe from an Argentine friend who runs a restaurant in town. I never liked turkey much in the States since it was always so dry but Mexican turkeys have more taste. I bought the Mexican brand—the last one in the store—and heaved a sigh of relief.

Once I got home I saw the “Mexican” turkey came from Minnesota, my home state! NAFTA strikes again. But Susi’s recipe saved the day.

The best part of a turkey in my mind is the chestnut dressing and the chestnuts imported from Spain were fantastic this year.

Wow. Ninety euros for a turkey! But you’re right, Philly Girl, those turkey roasts (like ham roasts) are evil. If you can’t have the real thing, I think it’s better to fry an egg.


missfootloose January 3, 2011 at 10:59 am

Yes, I’m worried 😉 about what they will think of next, but it does keep interesting. You made me laugh with your Mexican Minnesota turkey story. Another one of those typical expat incidents. I once got one of those turkeys in Ghana, but I did know it came from Minnesota. It was quite nice, but it was defective: It had a wing missing. I’ve heard that a lot of stuff exported is not necessarily top notch. Not that it made a difference in the flavor of the turkey.


MartyrMom December 31, 2010 at 11:07 am

I DO love fried turkey! It’s the skin that makes for the fat content…not the frying necessarily. Supposedly the skin gets seared quickly, there by, keeping the oil from penetrating the meat. Well, that’s what I’m told anyway!! Doesn’t really matter either way to me cause I love the skin too!!! that sounds disgusting…….
We usually have the traditional turkey for Thanksgiving and a ham for Christmas. Honey Baked Hams are the very best and the most costly but they are ever soooooo good!! Collards with the ham bone for New Years!!!!!


missfootloose January 3, 2011 at 11:04 am

You’re right the deep-fried turkey tasted good, and I love the skin too 😉 but I would never invest in all that paraphernalia and to through the hassle, but hey, this way the guys have a real he-man project to get busy with.

As I mentioned in my response to Philly Girl Abroad, I am not a fan of sweet, watery American hams, but hey, if we all loved the same thing it would be a boring world!


Laural Out Loud December 31, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Thanksgiving is so full of calories (if you do it right) that I imagine a little bit extra from frying a turkey would hardly register, lol. I’ve been dying to try this, but don’t have the gear. It just cooks so darn fast! And everyone raves about how great it tastes. If they’re starting to sell kits, maybe I’ll find one for next year!


missfootloose January 3, 2011 at 11:08 am

The deep fryer kits are for sale in the US, but you may have to take out a second mortgage. Sure, it tastes good, but I guess I’m too practical to want to deal with it and then have to store the fryer and burnere and those gallons of oil…

But if you do, write about it and add a photo so your readers can share in your adventure 😉


Louise | Italy January 1, 2011 at 10:43 am

Poor creature. Hope it died in a slightly more dignified way.


missfootloose January 3, 2011 at 11:11 am

I’m afraid not. I once visited a chicken farm/factory and saw how they killed the chickens. It was most undignified. I assume turkeys find their death the same way. I suggest you don’t find a YouTube video about the process.


BLissed-Out Grandma January 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Good that your photo shows the torture taking place well away from the house. A lot of guys have burned down their garages (and sometimes that attached house) trying to use one of these gizmos. I’ll take my turkey oven-roasted, thanks.


missfootloose January 3, 2011 at 11:12 am

They are dangerous gizmos indeed. I won’t be trying it myself!


edj January 3, 2011 at 6:48 pm

How funny! I am happy to say that not all America is rushing to deep-fry everything–in the NW, we are all dry-brining turkeys this year. And then barbecuing. 😉 I tried dry-brining myself and it was great!
In Mauritania, we couldn’t get turkeys, but used to gather as American expats to celebrate Thanksgiving with chicken. One friend stuck a bottle of Coke up the chicken’s butt (an open bottle) and barbecued it. Sounds VERY strange, but the Coke imparted a subtle sweetness to the meat. It was delicious! But very American.


Samba February 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Having lived in Southern US for several years I’ve now given up on being amazed at all that’s deep fried there… from okra to oreos and anything in between!


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