Thursday, November 27, 2008

Teşekkür gününüz kutlu olsun!

I am, I think, a typical American (read: hypocrite) in that I like to eat meat--especially, mmm, pork--but I don't really want to know where it comes from. It comes from the supermarket, right? In nice, clean little packages of breasts and fillets, hold the sesos and the cabeza and the ciğer (unless, maybe, it's deep-fried), and especially the işkembe. Shudder. To be honest, even handling the packaged cuts of meat makes me a little squeamish.

But, it's Thanksgiving, and if the fact that none of the ex-pats left in town can cook isn't keeping us from celebrating with a turkey in Turkey, nothing will. (We'll be feasting on Saturday, however, since some people have, like, "real jobs" and stuff. No four-day weekend for them here.) So I found myself at the tavukçu ("chicken guy") today, picking up the bird I'd ordered last week. Since I'd made a big point of asking, "Can you completely clean it? Remove all the feathers? Remove all the stuff that's inside?"* and he'd responded, somewhat unconvincingly, "Of course, of course! All you have to do is cook it!" I was a bit taken aback to see the turkey hanging from a ceiling by a hook, with feet, feathers, and all. Its head, or whatever was left of it, in a nice nod toward delicate sensibilities, was covered with a little cone of cardboard.

The tavukçu then slapped my köy hindisi ("village turkey") down on his cutting board, picked up a big knife and proceeded to cut off the head and feet, stuck his hand inside the carcass to pull out the guts (insisting on returning the "delicious" liver and stomach once he'd severed them from the rest of the gunk), and held it over a propane burner to singe off any remaining feather bits. I tried to explain how, "In America, the turkey is already ready. No head, no feet..." He nodded, and smiled, and kept working away.

* I do love that one of the ways to say "remove" in Turkish is yok etmek, "to make non-existent."

More pictures of the tavukçu at work:


4 comments:

renai said...

Great post! This is actually how my mother-in-law prepares turkey from their village. She calls yok etmek "epilasyon" and then laughs! She carries out the epilasyon over the burner and picks all the feathers off by hand. I can't bring myself to partake in the cleaning of them but I must say that nothing is tastier than köy hindisi cooked in a pressure cooker until tender and then sauteed in butter and salça! Yum yum!

Jen said...

Thanks, Renai, I'm glad you liked it! We had to make do without a pressure cooker, but it was still very tasty. Love the "epilasyon" - sounds like your mother-in-law has a sense of humor!

abuzer said...

Not to nitpick but remove translates more accurately to "cikartmak" than "yok etmek" which is closer to destroy or to terminate. BTW I can't imagine being and English speaker and trying to learn Turkish, the reverse was difficult enough for me with years and years of formal education.

Jen said...

Just goes to show you can't always trust the ol' sözlük! But he was able to understand my goofy Turkish, as people always seem to be able to do...

Hem Türkçe hem Ingilizce zor diller!