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Thursday, November 22, 2018

A Repost on Cultural Appropriation of the Worst Kind

Below is my traditional repost on Thanksgiving. I know my long-suffering six readers will find it a bore, but I have a house full of relatives and dogs, and I have been put in charge of the Thanksgiving meal. I am not a good cook, at all. So this is going to be a challenge. In the past we did as the Pilgrims did, have dinner at an Indian casino (That is what they did, right?) but, despite my being in the land of the great and much persecuted and maligned Cherokee, there isn't one nearby, so . . . . Turkey cooking bag here I come! Deep political thoughts will have to wait.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and belated Happy Thanksgiving to Canada.

Feathers 

Yes, feathers. Not the figurative kind that fill leftoid heads, but the real kind that cover birds. We are going light today. Our topic is feathers and how they nearly produced a civil war in the Diplomad clan, and how echoes of that strife apparently will reverberate on the 4th of July.

As the six regular readers of this blog are painfully aware, during the Reagan years I served for a time at the UN in New York. We loved New York City, even with all its inconveniences especially with two rambunctious boys. Schooling was a problem as the local PS was, well, pretty bad. When two of the vastly overpaid teachers at the school told us that they would never send their own kids there, we decided to yank our boys out and send them--at considerable cost to the Diplomad bottom line--to private schools. One went to a school run by Irish Catholic nuns, who wanted no parental involvement, "Thank you very much, but we know how to do this." The older son went to one run by strangely liberal, yet oddly conservative Jews who wanted lots of parental involvement in the school as long as the parents did what the school wanted. Hey, it's New York. Live with it.

Well, as it does every year, the Thanksgiving holiday rolled around. You must understand we had spent most of our lives overseas. The boys had been born in Spain, and hardly had been in the US. Educated abroad, they--God help me--had grown to love soccer football soccer with both of them becoming (and remaining to this day) rabid fans of Spain's La Furia Roja. Their grip on Americana was a bit weak. Please remember that as this saga proceeds.

Another piece of background you will need. My Spanish wife hates, detests, abhors, loathes, etc, feathers and any creature sporting them. She shows a special wrath for chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese. She cannot stand the thought of fowl on the meal plate. I have seen her blanche and break out into a cold sweat at fancy diplo dinners when served quail, duck or some other feather-bearing beast. It is not funny; better said, she has no sense of humor about this matter. My efforts to convince her that chicken tastes just like iguana have had no positive effect. Whenever we go to a restaurant, regardless of what she orders, she insists on, ahem, grilling the waiter on whether any foul fowl was involved in the making of her pending meal, "Uh, no ma'am, our salmon is, uh, salmon. It's a fish, not a bird." "Yes, yes, but the rice and the vegetables, were they cooked with chicken?" I am used to it by now.

Thanksgiving Day in New York, 1985. My older son, then about six was in a bad mood. I asked what was wrong, "You have no school today. Mom is making a nice Thanksgiving meal. What's wrong?" He glared at me, "The Pilgrims did not eat paella! They ate turkey!"

Explanation. Given the Diplowife's aversion to feathery creatures, our overseas Thanksgiving Day meals consisted of seafood paella. My wife had, ahem, implied in some way . . . oh, heck, she flat out told the kids that the Pilgrims ate paella with the Indians. Maybe she was thinking about Cortez and Pizarro, I don't know, but anyhow the kids had gotten into their heads that paella was the meal on Thanksgiving. Now in NY, the older boy had been asked the previous day to make a presentation at school on Thanksgiving. He, of course, reported that the English Pilgrims sat down and shared paella with the Native Americans. This caused a bit of a commotion and, I guess, led to some considerable ridicule, or what the politically correct nanny-staters now would label "bullying."

He was furious with us. He refused to eat paella and demanded a turkey. Even my wife was shocked into submission by the uncompromising fury coming from the tyke. It was Thanksgiving Day. I had to find a turkey in Manhattan! I dashed out of our building on the upper east side. All of the supermarkets were closed. A turkey! My kingdom for a turkey! I wandered the cold, darkling desolate concrete canyons, my despair growing and threatening to overwhelm me. I had let down my kids! The wages of sin, the consequences of falsehoods! God give me a sign that You will allow me to redeem myself . . . Wait! A deli! Still open but about to close! I ran in! Turkey sandwiches! They must have a turkey somewhere! A bizarre negotiation followed in which I finally convinced the suspicious Pakistani owner of the "Jewish" deli to sell me a whole kosher turkey at the price per pound of the sliced sandwich meat. I paid him a fortune--in cash--for a small bird about the size of a Chihuahua, and ran like the Grinch with my turkey under my arm.

My kids had turkey that day, and every other Thanksgiving since then has featured a big bird on the table. My wife refuses to sit anywhere near it, and has her own separate fish-based meal.

This will be an issue on the Fourth of July. The Thanksgiving paella got moved to Independence Day. The kids, now grown, of course, alas, are starting to make noises of impending rebellion against paella and in favor of hot dogs and other beast meat. The Diplowife mistrusts hotdogs, even the kosher all-beef ones, as stealth chicken missiles. She does not want anything with the potential of bearing fowl touching our BBQ grill or being anywhere near anything else that might be cooking. It appears that we might have a split Fourth meal. One side of the family eating chicken wings and hotdogs, and the other with the paella. Now that I think about it, this seems an appropriate metaphor for what is happening to our country.

33 comments:

  1. Reader #7 here: Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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  2. Happy Thanksgiving from Arkansas

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  3. From Reader #9 here: Happy Thanksgiving!

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  4. How about a ham steak as a compromise? Happy Thanksgiving!

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    Replies
    1. That happened to be exactly what the Diplowife is eating right now.

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    2. OMG! I actually got something right! My wife wouldn't have believed it. ;-)

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    3. Yes, a good bite of ham would be great...

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    4. Ham is from pigs ... and, if pigs fly, they must have feathers ...

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  5. Since I am the sixth poster, all your readers are now accounted for. This remains an excellent (and well written) story, despite having heard it for several years now. Happy Thanksgiving to you, yours, and any ornithophobic readers you may have!

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  6. Had my Drumstick!
    Watching the Dallas Game!
    Best Thanksgiving Wishes to All!
    On Watch~~~

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  7. Unfortunately, it is tastiest when served with a pile of hashbrowns, and some fried eggs.

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  8. I love this story; every year I look forward to re-reading it.

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  9. I read this story every year, and I still laugh.

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  10. Just great! I do hope your culinary efforts turned out well yesterday.

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  11. Happy thanksgiving. You can tell your wife for me that if my wife and I were on our own on Thanksgiving and given the choice, we'd probably also go for a seafood paella-even if we don't share her aversion to poultry. It's just that turkey often comes out dry and weak-tasting, while seafood paella is, well, seafood paella.

    Still, one traditional Thanks'giving thing I sorely missed a lot of the time I was overseas (whether teaching or in the Foreign Service) was pumpkin pie...

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  12. From the land Down Under a belated Happy Thanksgiving cousins.

    Kepha a friend of mine from Georgia when asked if he wanted a slice of pumpkin pie was adamant that "Punkins is fo hogs".

    My first trip to the US while I was still in uniform introduced me to pumpkin pie and I must say I agree with my friend from the fair State of Georgia.

    And as Hannukah is just around the corner Chag Urim Sameach Dip

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    1. David: און אַ גוטע יום טוּב צו איר. A good yomtov to you, too!
      Please be patient with me. I still like pumpkin pie! You've reminded me that I have to read the books of the Maccabees again.

      Delete
  13. What a great, if somewhat bizarre, family story. You wife is either a Dangerous Maniac, or one of God's Precious Fools. Much like mine, except my wife loves turkey.

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  14. There are only two turkeys I ever really enjoyed eating:
    1) 36hrs on the smoker, maintained by attentive and loving caretakers.
    2) whole turkey in a deep fryer in the back yard... great, but not as good as #1 (this one was a fresh kill... that might've helped)

    The rest are just poor imitations of gourmet cardboard, imo.

    #1 will turn the pheasantophobes into true turkey-toleraters. :)

    I'm holding out a potential spot for a whole-turkey sous-vide... though I doubt it'll beat #1.

    - reader #1482

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  15. What's the difference between erotic and kinky?

    Erotic: you use feathers.

    Kinky: use the whole bird.

    Happy Thanksgiving, folks!

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  16. I highly recommend a spatchcocked (butterflied), dry-brined (kosher salt, baking soda, poultry seasoning, refrigerate 24 hr minimum) turkey to solve the problem of dry tasteless turkey.

    The butterflied turkey cooks fast ( 1 to 1.5 hour) and evenly with plenty of moisture sealed in the meat by the brine coating. It's much easier than it sounds

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  17. In case you have been worrying, Mr Mad, our Xmas goose will be delivered on Sunday December 23rd.

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  18. I am still searching for a capon. Anyone have info where they can be purchased??

    Meanwhile, Diplo, because I don't have your email address, here's a post you might enjoy...

    https://gatesofvienna.net/2018/11/blundering-american-ambassadors-unmask-the-war-on-terror/

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    1. "I am still searching for a capon. Anyone have info where they can be purchased??" - Dymphna

      ROFL, even after all these years, I'm smiling . . . ;)
      Once upon a time I was a H.S. junior in search of part-time job! Found one and the job paid well! At a Poultry Farm, with retail Chicken and seasonal Turkey Store attached. They sold all things poultry, whole, parts, sliced, hot or cold, pot pies, soups, salads even chopped liver!

      So, on my first day, I was indoctrinated by the Manager on how to handle knives and saws safely, he by the way, had just 3 fingers left on his good sawing hand. Lost, he said when not paying enough attention while quartering one of the birds on a particularly unforgiving hi-speed machine!

      He sure got my attention! He also taught me how to keep the chickens fresh in an over-night bath of water n' bleach, nothing worse to the customer than birds that turned bad to the nose, he said!

      The most memorable lesson tho, was about the psychological tools available to sales people when dealing with suggestible customers. He even acted some of his moves out, and we new hires performed the rituals to the best of our fledgling abilities! My speci-ality, was handling the sensitive female customer, she who could not be satisfied by just any bird, only the highly touted CAPON would do...

      After a few months on the sales floor, All requests for the elusive specimen would be referred to me -- in retrospect, I suppose I had an honest face back then. I was usually called in, almost, as a consultant, then I'd start the mojo working, first smelling the bird, then examining between the legs of 3 or 4 birds from the display counter.

      Then, when finding none that were good enough for my latest client, I excused myself saying "I think we may have some select Capons which just arrived in the back.

      After 2-3 minutes I'd return with a big smile of success, and the biggest bird I could find in the cooler - 9 out of 10 times the shopper was ecstatic for the time and attention, and she'd walk proudly off to the cashier with a wave and a wagonload of fixings!

      Happy Customers, begat More Happy Customers, and the rest is history methinks? Happy Holidays One and All!
      jr. On Watch~~~

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  19. Women...! We all suffer them in different ways... "Darkling". Do you mean "darkening" (a very recent connotation) or "in the dark"? Etymology. My wife suffers too.

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    1. I was using darkling in the somewhat poetic use made of it in the Oxford dictionary.

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  20. Dip.
    I never tire of this story..it is a hoot!!!

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  21. Mr. Amselem?

    I recall a tale of which some details were skirted somewhat away from owing, either as I recall to, NatSec or perhaps your not being apprised of what had been cleared ...

    Anyway I noticed this in The Hill:

    https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/419272-a-hair-raising-story-of-jungle-heroism-you-probably-never-heard-about

    Is it possible you might have something to add?

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  22. I've probably asked this a thousand times before, but when did the diplokids find out that seafood paella is also not the traditional american christmas dinner? :)
    I only ask because my wife and I currently have some 'hidden abrogations of tradition' and need to know how long we have before the gig is up!

    - reader #1482

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  23. Get rid of your wife. Traditional turkey with all the fixings is "the most wonderful day of the year."

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