What’s Your Thanksgiving Turkey Style?

Thanksgiving dinner is the highest-stakes, highest-pressure meal of the year. Here, we explain what your turkey cooking method says about your relationship style.

By Bob Strauss

hen you get right down to it, Thanksgiving dinner is just another ordinary, humdrum meal: all you have to do is subtract the relentlessly blaring TV specials, the pushy, clueless relatives, your too-small kitchen and your lack of seven hands, and... what was my point again? Oh, yeah: Thanksgiving dinner is the highest-stakes, highest-pressure meal of the year. And like all high-stakes, high-pressure events (moving to another town, losing your job, having to explain the latest episode of Family Guy to your six-year-old nephew), the way you and your partner handle this challenge says gravy boat-loads about the state of your relationship.

Fortunately, there is a deep and rich scientific tradition, stretching back for centuries, that expertly correlates the way you cook your
You are the thinkers — the power couple.
Thanksgiving turkey with the way you and your mate get along — not only with each other, but with visiting friends and relatives. I don’t have the space to footnote the endless journal citations, but trust me as I list the various techniques and their possible implications for the next 40 or 50 Turkey Days of your natural life span.

The Traditional Turkey: Roasted, with Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce
I won’t go so far as to call Traditional Turkey couples boring and lacking in imagination; I’ll leave that to Juliet A. Boghossian, author of Food-ology: You Are How You Eat, who says, “As a couple, you’re traditional and agreeable by nature. You’re known for your politically correct personalities, which make you coveted as friends and well-respected as colleagues. Dinner and a movie is a typical date night and a local restaurant that knows you by name...” Well, I can go on, but you get the idea.

In my experience, the main problem with Traditional Turkey couples is the unreasonable expectations they bring to everyone invited to their cozy little Thanksgiving dinner party: you’ll have to cook a similarly traditional dish, to their exact specifications, of course, and woe betide latecomers or cynics (especially guests who think of “clever” things to say when everyone at the table is asked to recite something they’re thankful for).

The Power Turkey: Deep-Fried, with Fusion Trimmings
Every November, you see news reports about couples who’ve blown themselves up by dropping still-frozen turkeys into boiling cauldrons of canola oil. That may not be such a bad outcome, from a Darwinian perspective, when you hear Boghossian’s take: “As a couple you are indispensable to your friends and family, and most importantly to elevating each others’ goals. You are the thinkers — the power couple. The couple with the plan for the best vacation getaway or how to get the best deal on a car. Your follow through and attention to detail is unmatched, giving you both the ability to…” etc., etc.

Oddly, I’ve found that Power Turkey couples can be every bit as picky and demanding as Traditional Turkey couples, especially if you make the mistake of bringing your grandma’s old-fashioned homemade cranberry sauce when they would have preferred mole-crusted avocado chutney, the better to set off the obscure Australian wine they’ve had specially imported for the occasion.

The Wacky Turkey: Meet the Turducken
You can imagine the conversation in early November: “Honey, I’m bored
You revel in debate and are the most apt of all the couples to go bungee jumping.
with plain old turkey. Let’s liven things up by cooking a turducken!” (A turducken, for those of you not in the know, is a genetically engineered mad-scientist hybrid of a turkey stuffed with a duck, which is stuffed itself with a chicken.) Here’s Boghossian again: “As a couple, you are creative, adventurous, curious and independent in thought and action. You are seldom concerned about popular opinion. You revel in debate and are the most apt of all the couples to go bungee jumping or parasailing on a third or fourth date. Moderation and compromise are not in your vocabulary — you believe where there is a will there is a way, and yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too.”

Ready to kill them yet? Me, too, but consider the upside: You get to live vicariously through the Wacky Turkey couple’s mad antics by telling all your friends about the weird stuff you ate at Thanksgiving and the even more weird party games you were forced to participate in afterward. As a bonus, you can give your co-workers little baggies of the extra turducken no one wanted to eat because, well, to date, no one else in history has figured out how to successfully cook one of these gruesome creatures.

The “Holy Crap, Is it Thanksgiving Already?” Turkey: Welcome to Applebee’s!
Here’s my favorite couple, and I suspect you harbor a secret affinity for them as well. They’re the ones too busy living, working, dealing with kids, etc., to pay much attention to all the Thanksgiving hoo-hah, and wind up booking a dinner reservation at the last minute. The inevitable Boghossian: “As a couple you are confident and independent. You appreciate tradition very much but are not the least bit restricted by it; and oblige only when you feel like it. Your motto: Live for now. You work hard and play hard and take calculated risks with little fear. You are seldom guilted into doing something you don’t want to do, which doesn’t make you the most popular couple.”

From a friend’s or relative’s perspective, of course, the big problem with the “Holy Crap!” couple is that they’ve left everyone else holding the Thanksgiving bag: don’t expect them to fill out your smaller-than-expected Traditional Turkey turnout or to rescue you from your overbearing in-laws by inviting you to their own holiday soiree. The only way to get back at them: Next year, pretend to “forget” Thanksgiving yourself and instead visit your local Arby’s.

Bob Strauss is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives in New York City. He’s also written the Dinosaur guide on, the online information network owned by the New York Times.
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