Taking the "e" out of turkey - FamilyEducation

Taking the "e" out of turkey

November 26,2008

Thanksgiving is a strange time for vegetarians. Not because we don't know what to serve for the big dinner, but because people seem confused about how to talk to us this time of the year. Everywhere we go people sidestep around the topic of the Thanksgiving menu, dropping their voices to a hushed whisper when they say the word "turkey." The other day I went to the dentist for a routine cleaning and the hygienist, who has managed to perfect the art of timing her questions just right so I can answer between scrapings, asked me about Thanksgiving dinner.

"Do you serve a whole turkey," she asked, "or just the breast?"

T., who was sitting on the floor on a blanket (I love my dentist--they always prepare ahead of time for the kids and spread out a soft blanket on the floor for them) piped up suddenly:

"We don't eat meat! We're vegetarians!" (Only she pronounces it "veggietaran.")

"Oh! I forgot!" C. the hygienist said, and then she tried to change the topic suddenly, as if she had said something really offensive.

The next time I had the chance to talk, I told her we love Thanksgiving, and that we always have tons to eat.

"What DO vegetarians eat at Thanksgiving?" C. wanted to know.

I told her what I'll tell you here--we eat plenty. We eat things like this:

And this:

Why does taking the "e" out of "turkey" somehow make both of these more vegetarian?

The Quorn Roast was our favorite for many years, until we tried the Tofurky roll. One year, I couldn't find the Quorn Roast anywhere. I looked high and low in all the right places, and there was no Quorn Roast to be found. We ended up having the Quorn cutlets instead, and I don't think Scott ever forgot the trauma of that holiday meal. So this year, when he went to Whole Foods to buy the Tofurky roll for us, he came home with not only with the Tofurky roll, but with THREE Quorn Roasts as well.

"See!" he said, opening the freezer. "We will never run out of Quorn Roast again." I decided not to push the point that it will be just the four of us this year for Thanksgiving, and I hope we don't tire of the Quorn Roast any time soon, or lose power for any length of time ("We'll just cook up the roasts in the fireplace," Scott said). This year I'm also making this dish, which I made last year as well. If you need another vegetable/squash-type dish for Thanksgiving dinner, this one is a real winner. It was hands down one of the best parts of Thanksgiving dinner last year, got rave reviews from our guests, and I can't wait to make it again. I substitute feta cheese for most of the goat cheese, because goat cheese is ridiculously expensive. You could probably use all feta cheese and the results would be equally good. I also make a small pan of sweet potatoes (T.'s favorite), and this year I'll cook up some fresh string beans (one of the only cooked vegetables L. will eat).

I feel a little deflated this year that I won't be cooking for a lot of people. Part of me longs for a Thanksgiving dinner with the table groaning with food, and cousins chasing each other up and down the stairs. I long for the warmth and chaos that go along with family gatherings, and the mealtime conversations. I've also always fantasized about hosting a big Thanksgiving for my family, and cooking up the meal in the kitchen with my mom. But another part of me is accepting the fact that we need the quiet days; we need to sit by the fire, to catch up on some reading (and work), to fill the house with the wonderful smells of good food cooking. We need a window of time--just the four of us--a precious commodity definitely worth being thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours...