Expat Foodie: How to Humiliate a Turkey

Forget the oven

by Miss Footloose

If you’re a turkey you’re not lucky if you live in the United States.

Proud turkey

Pride and Arrogance

Around the world, Christmas celebrations usually involve a big, fancy meal. 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.

The destiny of one proud turkey

One Christmas some years ago, 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. I spent Christmas instead in the US with family, where I had . . . turkey and ham (along with lots of other wonderful food.)  Allow me to show you the very dead and no-longer-proud 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 (deep-fried pigs ears, guacamole, sauerkraut balls, I kid you not). 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?

No worries!

As you can see on the photo, 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 available for sale, if not for the loose change in your pocket (google it). And I expect, some entrepreneur somewhere 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: All went well and nobody got burned or cooked along with the unfortunate fowl. But . . .

Check this out!

Would you like to know what it looks like when things go south? Here’s a video that might change your mind if you’re considering deep-frying a turkey for Christmas this year:

Deep Fried Turkey Fails

Let me close this tale by saying the turkey I had was fabulous, and that I hope all of you had a wonderful meal this Christmas, with or without deep-fried turkey. I am in France and dined on oven-roasted guinea fowl and capon.

* * *

Tell me about your traditional holiday meal adventures. Anything fun or unusual? Please comment and make my day!

Proud Turkey Photo credit: Bothering Birds on Visualhunt

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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!


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.

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.

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

Laural Out Loud

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!

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!!!!!

maria altobelli

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… Read more »

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.

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.

Blue Bus Barb

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!

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.

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.

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….

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