Carving Out My Niche

By Michael

Thanksgiving’s at my sister’s house this week. I hope she’ll let me carve the turkey.

Carving the turkey, of course, is a guy thing. No matter how much time mom spends tying and basting and seasoning and schlepping the bird around the kitchen, dad gets the final shot at doing a Rambo on the finished product.

For some reason, people think it’s natural that men will carve the turkey. Most of the great chefs are men, still, and we’re the hunters in a world of hunters and gatherers. All the great knife people were men, like Jim Bowie and old Mack Heath, babe, and Mr. Swiss Army…so there must be something in our DNA that makes us great turkey carvers.

Except, of course, that I don’t really have a clue. I don’t even watch Top Chef for gawdsakes and I never even learned to whittle.

Still, the girls think I know what I’m doing and it’s a tradition for me to carve the turkey, so I’ve learned how to preserve the aura of expertise that I, as a father, bring to all my endeavors.

So, guys, here’s how to fake it:

1. First, look seriously at the bird and make some comment to your wife about this year’s version of a Thanksgiving feast. “Hmm, the breastbone is protruding more this year,” or “This would be much easier to cut if you’d taken it out of the oven five minutes and forty-two seconds earlier.” It’s important to establish that you know your birds.

2. Next, take at least three knives from the drawer and examine them all. Hold the blade up to the light and then align it with the direction of your first slice. Try to keep a straight face as you announce, “Yes, I’ll use the 10-inch stainless for this year’s bird,” and put the other two knives into the sink.

3. Carving the turkey at the table is a rookie mistake to be avoided at all costs. Anybody who does it once will learn quickly that they should never do it again, but smart people will just accept the fact that they should stay in the kitchen. So you’ll want to send everyone out of the room, for their own safety. “You know, this takes a lot of concentration and I’d hate to injure any of you, so perhaps you’ll want to grab your seats in the dining room,” you’ll say. Be firm, promising that the carving will be completed sooner and you only need the privacy for their safety.

4. When everyone is out of the room, start hacking away at the turkey. Feel free to rip off the drumsticks and thighs rather than using either the knife or those shears you got for your wedding and never learned to use. Speed is more important than skill here.

5. Get everything you can cut off the carcass onto a platter and then go wash all the turkey grease off your hands. In foodservice, it’s all in the presentation, so you can look professional even with tiny crumbly slices, as long as your hands are clean.

6. Present the platter to the family with a sigh and an apology, but never really take the blame and, whatever you do, don’t try to pass the buck to mom. “Sorry I couldn’t get all the slices even this year, but you know how it is with (free range, hormone free, frozen, fresh, Nebraskan, 14-pound, whatever) birds. But I’m sure it will taste great, because mom makes the best turkey.” Awwww.

After everyone tells you that it’s certain to be fine and you really know how to carve a turkey better than anyone, mumble some thanks and start passing the platter. And never, ever, ever bring up the subject again.

So dinner is at my sister’s house this week and my nephew might be called upon to cut the turkey. I sure hope he’s reading this blog.

Michael Rosenbaum is 5 Minutes for Parenting’s first dadblogger. He is a business consultant, playwright and author of Your Name Here: Guide to Life.

Michael blogs on life issues at Your Name Here Guide to Life and manages the Adult Conversation discussion group on Linked-In.

9 Responses to Carving Out My Niche
  1. melissa
    November 24, 2009 | 3:21 am

    lovely Michael I will remember for Christmas asthis year doing roast chicken LOL will send hubby to view this post!

  2. Marie
    November 24, 2009 | 5:16 am

    Where do you fellas learn this stuff?

  3. Janice (5 Minutes for Mom)
    November 24, 2009 | 1:40 pm

    You made me chuckle this morning! 🙂 THANKS and enjoy your turkey! 🙂

  4. Christine Holroyd
    November 24, 2009 | 3:54 pm

    We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Australia, so I can’t assess how well a turkey is being carved each year and I don’t eat meat other than fish which never needs carving 🙂

    This post brought a big grin to to this tired gals face, so thankyou.

  5. Susan Mandell
    November 24, 2009 | 10:24 pm

    Thanks for making me laugh this evening =) Great post. I have a feeling my dad will be reading this before our Thanksgiving on Thursday!

  6. Bryan
    November 24, 2009 | 11:05 pm

    Nephew speaking here.

    At the ripe old age of 30 I’ve never been more ready to cut my first bird. Growing up, I never really had the chance to hunt for my Thanksgiving bird – or even to carve it, really – as my parents opted to enroll me in less hazardous activities… like figure skating.

    Giddy up.

  7. Kelly
    November 25, 2009 | 11:15 am

    I’m impressed Bryan is ready to go. Look at all that chutzpah. I think he might need to cut the turkey AT THE TABLE, just to bring him down a peg. (A dull knife would make it even more fun.)

  8. Linda
    November 26, 2009 | 12:02 pm

    Sister speaking here…

    So I had already emailed you, asking if you would do me a favor and carve our Thanksgiving turkey…it sounds, though, like your nephew would like to be mentored…Would you be so generous as to take on an apprentice, so that the next generation will be ready?

    Mom speaking here…

    OK Bry, fair enough (although you were an ADORABLE reeses pieces, or whatever)…but just remember, you were enrolled in hockey, too…the most hazardous of all sports!!!

  9. Click Here
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