Have you ever wondered why it is we eat turkeys on Thanksgiving instead of a nice pork roast? Probably not, it’s not something most people think about. There is a reason though, and it might surprise you to hear the story. Sit back and relax, this might take a while. It is a story in two parts.
For hundreds of years there has been an undercurrent of tension between pigs and turkeys. The first part of our story begins almost 500 years ago with the pork brothers three. When the rotund siblings disembarked from the Mayflower in November of 1621, they were tired, and they were unsure of how to survive in this new land. They went hog wild and headed straight for the forest. What they didn’t know, however is that they were being watched. A sly creature watched them from high in the trees. As the brothers conferred with one another about housing options they heard a crunch on the leaves. They turned around to see a strange creature. It was a bird, certainly, but different from any that they had seen before. Like a vulture, it’s small head was bald. It was crimson in color, and hanging from the bottom of it’s beak was a prodigious flap of red skin. The feathers below the neck were sleek black. The legs were long and graceful. The creature circled the pigs curiously, “Quoth, art thou new here?” it asked. “Indeed Brother, but who art thou?” answered the piglets. “I am Turkey, and I shall give thee the best advice thou canst receive. A wolf dwelleth in these woods, and wilt devour thee. One thing only must thou do to escape his fearful appetite. Build thyself a house built of fresh golden straw, and stay ye there all hours of the night.” answered the turkey before turning and running back into the forest from whence he came. The brothers sighed, each had a different thought about their encounter. The youngest felt relieved at meeting such a helpful friend and resolved immediately to follow Turkeys advice. The second thought to himself, “If golden straw be good, then how much more would green twigs be effective against the terrible fury of the wolf.” The third, being a mason was more realistic about their safety, and the character of their new “friend”. He set forth to build himself a real home made of the strongest bricks. You know what happened next. The wolf cam huffing and puffing and blew down the straw house, and the stick house, and came thumping on the third pigs door.
“Little piglets, little piglets, open thy door or I shall blow thy residence down!!!”
“Not if the hair that groweth from our chinny-chin chins falleth to the ground.”
“I huffeth, and puffeth, and bloweth thy house down!”
. . . but he didn’t. The house stood fast. Again and again he tried to break down the house without success. “This will be the final time I heed the word of the Turkey, simple feast? No such luck.” grumbled the wolf before kicking the door and stalking away. The brothers looked at each other again, and wondered how best to repay the Turkey’s cruel trick. In no time at all they had heir plan laid.
The next day the youngest brother walked through the woods, and a feathered figure dropped from the trees in front of him. “How are thou brother pig?” asked the clever turkey. “Fine, fine, sir Turkey. I thank thee for thy wonderful advice, the house was marvelous for protection. I only wish I could give thee such wonderful advice.” said the youngest pig brother. The turkeys eyes glinted keenly, feeling through to the center of the words. “Thou art welcome. Little thanks is necessary. However, . . . I would like to know more of the land from which thou hailest, and the people.” The little pig was overjoyed to share all about the pilgrims with which he had traveled. How they were sophisticated, How they loved beautiful fowl, and would feed them from the hand. If Turkey didn’t believe him, then to see for himself. They raised small fowl as pets. Turkey thanked pig for his insight.
Turkey was curious, was the pig truthful? He watched the solemn pilgrims from a distance and saw, as the pig described there were small, fluffy fowl pecking in the yard. He ventured forth, and was greeted by a plump woman in a drab gown. The woman held out a handful of food, and turkey was welcomed in. He lived there for a year growing fat. In November of the following year the brothers strode toward the village, following their noses towards a delicious smell. Once they reached the hill top they looked out over the bay, and saw tables set up and a grand feast arrayed. There was a melding of colors and textures, clean pure cotton, tanned leather, feathers and bone; creamy milky white, and beautiful bronze next to one another. Laughter, and merriment abounded as native children taught the pilgrims their games, and adults prepared a grand feast. At the center of the feast was a great slick, orange fowl.