It’s November again already?! I know that it is because all of my food magazines have the same photograph on the cover, a gorgeous, golden brown roasted turkey. Are we that predictable as a society? Every November issue of every food magazine for as long as I have been reading food magazines has had the obligatory roasted turkey food shot on the cover. Doesn’t anybody eat ham any more? What about lamb? Or is that the officially designated Easter food? And what does the turkey industry do for the rest of the year? How many of you roast a turkey in July? Or April? Or any month, for that matter besides November and December?
I’ve got nothing against turkeys, mind you. Indeed, turkey is a wonderful bird. I think it is under rated for ten months out of the year and over rated for two.
So what will I have for Thanksgiving dinner this year? Turkey, of course. But not for the reason you might think. In my estimation, the whole hours-long process of roasting a turkey is completely justified by one thing: the midnight turkey sandwich. Face it, Thanksgiving Day is a real buzz kill. You’ve got a whole day off work, for crying out loud, and you spend it slaving in the kitchen!
We all have the dozen or so family recipes that we drag out every year and prepare for the occasion. We all stress over getting the right turkey and thawing it out in time and getting it in the oven on time and getting the oven temperature right and getting it nice and brown on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside (just like the cover photos). We get so bent out of shape about getting all the various casseroles and dressings and relishes and rolls and pies prepared and rotated in and out of the oven, ever mindful of the bird, that by the time we sit down to eat we are all exhausted. How can you enjoy the old sideboard buffet when you’re suffering from a stress headache that no amount of Wild Turkey, I mean roasted turkey, will get rid of? Sitting down at the dinner table to partake of the fruits (and vegetables, etc.) of your labor is not the justification of all that work.
No, the real reward on Thanksgiving day, the big payoff, the Great Relaxing Moment of the entire holiday comes much later. Long after the dishes are cleared, after all the football games are over and the bets are settled. After the tryptophan-induced nap on the sofa. After all the distant relatives have departed or are safely tucked into the spare bedroom. When nobody else is around. This is the most glorious moment of the day: Turkey sandwich time. Oh what a moment! Oh how I savor the sweetness of it. What a beautiful thing the Thanksgiving night turkey sandwich is. It is a moment that is best enjoyed by one’s self. You’ve spent all day with people, it is fitting that you have a little alone time with your turkey sandwich.
The Thanksgiving Night Turkey Sandwich
2 slices commercial sandwich bread, preferably whole wheat
Several thick slices of Thanksgiving turkey, breast meat
Hellman’s mayonnaise, a lot
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Tiptoe into the kitchen on Thanksgiving night just before midnight. Open the refrigerator and remove the aforementioned ingredients. Assemble your sandwich by the light of the refrigerator in the following sequence: slather both slices of bread with copious amounts of mayonnaise. Grind a generous amount of black pepper on top of the mayonnaise. Place the slices of turkey on one piece of the bread overlapping them slightly. Top with the other slice of bread. Close the refrigerator door (this is very important) after grabbing a cold beer or a glass of milk. (These are the only two acceptable beverages to drink with this sandwich, don’t even try anything else.) Retreat to the most comfortable seat in the house. Eat half of the sandwich. Down half of the beer (or glass of milk). Repeat. Go to bed.