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Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

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[OPINION] Why is turkey the staple of Thanksgiving when the taste just isn’t there?

Today, families’ tables across the country will feature turkey, but this bland meat hardly deserves to be the center of attention.
Turkey+is+so+dry%2C+it+requires+regular+basting+which+is+not+only+tedious%2C+but+also+pointless%2C+as+the+flavor+is+improved+minimally.
Photo by Sasha Baumgartner
Turkey is so dry, it requires regular basting which is not only tedious, but also pointless, as the flavor is improved minimally.

Turkey, the face of the American tradition/holiday known as Thanksgiving. With many options upon which to feast at the typical Thanksgiving table, inevitably, the turkey is left largely untouched. Why?

Let’s be frank: turkey just does not taste good by itself, so people opt for more savory (or sweet) options such as stuffing or tamales. Turkey is really just an off-brand hunk of chicken that is foul (or fowl?) in every way possible. Yet, millions of Americans continue to bring turkey to the Thanksgiving table.

Only one member of this family wears a smile as the turkey is carved on Thanksgiving: the other two are likely bracing themselves for a dry and bland bite of meat. (Royalty-free image courtesy of Cottonbro Studios via Pexels)

Turkey’s taste is bland no matter how and what is used to cook it. Sure, in recent years people have started deep frying their turkeys, or even throwing them on the grill, but these methods will never be able to satisfy the feasters, which is embarrassing. All that effort, thrown down the garbage disposal.

It’s almost impossible to roast a whole turkey (or 20-pound-plus anything) without overcooking it to the point of its being inedible. They’re just too damn big. And as a big whole turkey cooks, the moisture inside it escapes, Brian McManus, reporter for Vice, said.

And let’s say the turkey is cooked the right way (impossible): the amount of preparation and seasoning this bird needs just provide a slightly decent taste is way too much effort for meat that is drier than the Sahara desert.

“Why is Thanksgiving turkey so bland? Turkeys, unlike pig and beef, are lean. Without all that fat, cooking them long enough to safely heat the center of the bird bleeds the meat of its moisture and dries it out,” Isaac Eger, writer for Sarasota Magazine, said.

Big question: why is turkey so low in quality compared to its birdie buddies, like chicken? Mainly because Thanksgiving turkeys are bred to grow much larger than their intended size. Turkey became a cheap/affordable option in stores compared to all of the other meats, and they do provide good value in terms of price per pound. But, the phrase “quality over quantity” strikes in terms of a turkey’s size and value versus taste. Although a turkey offers a lot more suitable meat to feed a whole family, it is ironic that almost no one even lays a hand on that gross bird.

Other cultures substitute turkey for other meats, and do so for good reason. In Mexican culture (where this writer is from), families eat pork instead of turkey which is way better in every way possible.

Or, if not meat, then pumpkin pie should be the face of Thanksgiving (hot take)? This dessert is also superior to turkey, and is certainly consumable. Plus, pumpkin pie actually makes people happy: they love layering on the whipped cream and devouring the graham cracker crust. Whoever made turkey the face of a joyful holiday like Thanksgiving granted families created a tragedy.

Turkey is really only on the Thanksgiving table for show not for consumption. Keep it away. Eat pork and pumpkin pie instead, and bring happiness back to the holiday.

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About the Contributors
Jonathan Saucedo, Opinions Editor
Jonathan is a junior at West Chicago Community High School. He joined Journalism last year and has learned many important lessons - especially that deadlines can be tricky. This year, Jonathan is an up-and-coming opinions section editor. He is grateful for this position and his ability to be a leader for the Chronicle. Besides Journalism, Jonathan loves the draw/sketch (although he may not be good at it, he draws in his free time and during school when classes get a little boring). He also has a very sociable personality and can talk to people very easily, but when it comes to a presentation, he kind of falls off. His goal for this year's JPro class is to at least publish 25 assignments over the course of the year. Well, the task may be tough, but he believes in himself and so should you. Oh, and another one of his goals is to find a job. Over the summer, he went on a job hunt, but a lot of businesses declined, leaving Jonathan sad and broke. He is excited for Journalism and cannot wait to be a part of the team all year long - and next year, as well, when he becomes a full-on editor and the last of his peers. 
Sasha Baumgartner, Editor-in-Chief
Sasha is a senior, and this is her third year being a part of the Wildcat Chronicle. She found a swift passion for journalism during her sophomore year, learning how to write for fun and in many different ways. She has continued with the paper since 2021. Outside of journalism, Sasha is a member of the WEGO Dance team, a ROAR mentor and a member of National Honors Society and WEGO Global at the high school. Sasha’s main hobbies outside of school include working at a retirement community serving guests in the dining room, spending time with friends and family, and finishing up work for the Wildcat Chronicle. In the future, Sasha plans to attend college for psychology to be able to help people on a daily basis. 
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  • Mr. AielloNov 27, 2023 at 10:47 am

    Hot take here. While I agree with the premise that turkey as a meat is overrated, you definitely need some sort of main protein dish. Ham could be a viable option.

    Although turkey may indeed be mispositioned as the “face” of Thanksgiving, I urge you to consider the role the turkey plays in the meal itself: In a meal with so many strong flavors, the turkey acts as the blank canvas, which can serve as a vehicle for stronger flavors (stuffing, gravy, pretty much whatever you want to eat with the turkey).

    Maybe the lack of flavor is actually a good thing?