Friday, November 21, 2008
The butcher on Rue Lepic is my new best friend. Based on several measurements, discussions with my mother and online research I decided that a whole turkey was out of the question. I thought the next best thing would be a roasted turkey breast. So yesterday I dropped by my local butcher shop to inquire about a skin on, bone in turkey breast. I peered in to the case and saw turkey legs, wings and skinless boneless breasts but these turkey parts weren't going to add up to a platter worthy bird. So I asked the butcher for what I wanted using my sweetest, gee I'm new here voice. I told him that I need a skin on, bone in breast. He said he didn't have anything like that and didn't think that cut was a very good idea. I pleaded and explained that of course I would rather buy a whole turkey but given the fact that I am working with the smallest oven on the planet I think this cut wouldbe a good compromise. I would have the rib bones for structure and the skin for presentation which I would slather with butter and herbs and all the glorious white meat we needed. He frowned and said, "Come back tomorrow afternoon, madamoiselle, so I can think about it.".
I returned the next day at 2:00 only to find the shop closed. They close between 2:00 and 4:00 so apparently by afternoon he really meant evening! Fine I thought, more time for him to think about my turkey. I popped back down the hill at 4:00 and found my guy. "So?!" I said, "what did you find?" He pulled a whole turkey out of the case and says, "Voilà!". Oh god. He didn't understand me at all. My eyebrows furrow as I explained, again, that a whole turkey simply isn't going to fit in to my shoe box sized toaster oven and he said, "No no my dear, just show me what part you want and I will cut it for you!". Perfect! He then chops off the legs and cuts out the backbone leaving me with a perfectly sized, skin on, bone in breast! Hurray!
As the butcher was preparing my bird, the man behind me, who overheard my duress, tapped me on the shoulder and wished me a happy Thanksgiving. We got to talking and he told me that last year he was visiting some American friends in New York for Thanksgiving and he had something called a Turducken. The butcher stops chopping at this point to ask what, pray tell, a Turducken is? It is, for those unfamiliar, a chicken stuffed inside a large duck stuffed inside a turkey. The butcher shakes his head in disbelief and disgust. The frenchman who ordered the dish agreed. "How absurd! How extravagant! Why would anyone do that?" they proclaim. I laughed and said, "I know. We are nuts. But this dish speaks volumes about good old American ingenuity. Yes, our taste for excess can sometimes lead us astray but what can you do?" I left the store turkey in hand, feeling relieved an oddly proud of my wacky compatriots.