THE first year my parents decided to serve turkey for Christmas, they went out and got a teenage bird to fatten up for Dec 25. We children were little then and we became accustomed to the gobbler strutting around in the side yard under the clothes hanging on the washing lines or calling it stupid when we accidentally stepped into its squishy droppings with our bare feet.
One of my younger brothers, no taller than that growing bird, chased it around all the time. The turkey’s wattle was an infinite source of fascination for him and he tugged at it at every opportunity.
I don’t recall witnessing the slaughter, but I do remember plucking off very long feathers from a headless beast. My mother roasted the bird as best as she could in her small gas-fired oven and when she put it on the lunch table, her children rushed over with – what her generation called – goo-goo eyes. When it was time to eat the turkey though, my parents couldn’t bring themselves to have any of it – you know, having raised it from a chick and all. The little Ragavans, however, whacked it to the bone.
Since then, turkey has been on our Christmas menu almost every year. But after that experience with the live bird, the parents started sourcing turkey that was either dressed, frozen or already roasted, which, living in the tiny town that we come from, meant ordering and picking it up from out of state. And this was before the North-South Expressway was built.
One year, we left the thawing of the turkey a little too late and prepping and roasting was delayed because the inside of the bird was still frozen solid on Christmas morning. When I say I had to chisel out the ice from the cavity, I mean that literally. The tool was the sturdiest one for the job!
The only amusing thing about that incident is a photograph of me with my arm up a turkey’s bum. – Jane F. Ragavan
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