Holiday cooking is a happy hazard, meaning it is never perfect and something a little hazardous is bound to happen to twist the holiday cheers.
It is almost an old tired tune to repeat if I say turkey was only cooked once in the past ten years and there are several reasons for it. First reason is that most of my friends don’t know how to use the oven, which serves as a storage space, not a cooking facility, in most Asian immigrants’ home. Second is that the turkey is hard to cook through all the way; when it is cooked through it turns out to be dry. The one time we did cook the turkey, we were very vigilant in bathing the bird with gravy every half an hour, but to no avail. Dryness is here to stay and no amount of diligent gravy shower can fight it off. Third, it is hard to deal with the leftovers. Since turkey is so hard to roast and the result so disappointing, nobody wants to deal with the huge amount of leftover.
For the nine consecutive years that turkey is not cooked, a whole chicken, a whole duck, an organic chicken, a goose from Wegmans takes the place. Self-roasting has always been a problem due to the deficient skills in manipulating the oven. Finally the Thanksgiving cooking is inevitably and irreversibly evolved into buying a cooked bird from the store. One year it is a roasted organic chicken from Wegmans, another year it’s a duck from the Asian grocery store. The trouble is all the Asian restaurants around this area shut down on Thanksgiving day. It’s a tradition. They usually open even on Christmas day, but not on Thanksgiving day. The only place all the restaurants are open on Thanksgiving day is Chinatown, New York, where wedding banquets are booked all day long.
Several years ago, we went to a popular restaurant two days before Thanksgiving and the waiter told us that we could order a roasted turkey entry. I had never heard of roasted turkey in an Asian restaurant and we had no confidence that it’s going to be tasty. So we said no. The waiter was disappointed. Later, during our meal, he told us that nobody was ordering the turkey and the restaurant owner’s experiment is obviously a flop. We felt guilty that we couldn’t order it, but not guilty enough to order the turkey entry to please the waiter. So I asked the waiter if they have stuffings, gravies, mashed potatoes etc, which we could order. Although I don’t like turkey very much, I enjoy stuffings, gravies, pumpkin pies, and mashed potatoes. The waiter said they don’t have any of these peripheral items–or should I say turkey accessories.