Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey, ducks and the friends who helped us eat them.

I'm a changed omnivore. After eating one of Gillen's turkeys and two of his ducks for Thanksgiving dinner, I now intend to only meat occasionally, and only from our farm or from farmers we know.

I didn't even take part in the duck and turkey slaughter. I just watched a few minutes of the plucking and some of the guts removal (which I also smelled) and I saw the pictures that our adventurous, young, wise, vegetarian friend Persephone bravely took of the event. I took the clean path of Japanese dinner preparation in my newly orderly kitchen. But something shifted inside of me. Maybe it was having known this dinner as ducklings and poults, or maybe it was that smell. Or maybe I have just woken up to just how much we gloss over the slaughter of the animals we eat by wrapping it all up in cellophane and placing it in massive, even stacks in grocer's coolers. In Europe, the feet and heads are left attached. I like that.

As Persephone's boyfriend, meat-eating Chopper, said this week - if we had to go through this process every time I think we would eat meat only on special occasions. That's my new plan. We'll see how the family adapts.

I'm not out to recruit anyone to this way of thinking. So I'll show only appetizing pictures of the birds and none of the main event. Just these:Those ducks that were not facing their last day at our farm were chased away from the scene of the slaughter by Gillen and his friend Aaron.Chopper helped Nicolas with every step, including thanking the birds.Washing them after they have been de-gutted.

Chopper fried the turkey outside so that we would have room in the oven for the many gourmet sides that Persephone helped me prepare and for the two ducks:
Almost the entire meal was local, including green beans I'd frozen this summer, sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, escarole, radichio, raw milk and cheese. Next year, maybe we can use all local ingredients.

The exceptions were the pumpkin, cherry and pecan pies. Will you look at Persephone's pies:Look what that girl can do with pastry.
And they tasted as good as they looked.She also spent hours helping me prepare a Japanese dinner while the guys finished plucking and gutting the birds. I had to prepare Japanese for the joy of using all of my Japanese plates, bowls, sake cups and of course, these:Persephone worked so hard that when I prepared local beef (this is pre-Thanksgiving revelations) one day, the smell drove her to eat half a burger, for the first time in decades:And Chopper also got to act out of character, playing wii and W.O.W. for the first time and spending hours on the trampoline, rediscovering his boyhood, and a B-B gun (they're aiming at coconuts on the compost pile) with Gillen and Jesse:What a week. It was full and deep.

Another highlight was going to see Manheim Steamroller with some of our favorite unschooling friends, at the Fox Theater. Gillen and Jesse loved it. Jesse was inspired by it to want to play the violin. I admit, I wish it had been the keyboard. I now officially have some spirit and we are very ready for my Montana and Australian family to arrive.


reddoor said...

Madeline, those pies must be the most beautiful I have ever seen and I have spent part of my life in restaurant kitchens baking pastries. what a lovely day of celebration for you and your family and friends. we are making a promo tape for a fundraiser for our farm film and watching footage of Nicolas' interview made me wonder how you all are.

We are well, busy with films, and our dogs, and the brisk almost-cold of December. (It should be very cold...)

All best,
Red Door Media

mindy said...

I love the picture of the boys and your friend on the trampoline shooting the bb gun. Whata great Thanksgiving feast.

Madeline said...

Wendy, I can't wait to see the promo tape! I'll check out your site to learn more. How exciting to be that far along.

A Rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Rose said...

What a flood of thoughts I had after reading the first part of your post. I can only imagine what you would be going through, but it's not all that odd, I think.

My mother has a hard time eating sausage having grown up watching it put together.

My father had a hard time killing chickens on the farm he grew up on for his family's dinner, then after working in a poultry plant, he swore off chicken for a while.

I've only seen fish being dressed in my life and I have serious doubts of my stamina to watch any other animal being dressed.

I think there are good reasons why some, if not all, societies give some kind of thanks to the animal being eaten or to the "provider" of animals for subsistence.

I also think it important for my children to have exposure to the concept of what it means to eat meat. That it's not from a package, but from a living being.

I'm still a confirmed omnivore, but like I said, your post opened up a flood of thoughts regarding meat.

(sorry for the deleted post, I logged in and it saved a partial sentence.)

It was nice to see you again at Japan Fest at Beth's house.

Oh, and the pies look wonderful!!

April Rose