One of the reasons that Thanksgiving is highly anticipated among Americans all across the United States is that it is a holiday where Americans have the opportunity to stuff themselves with a wide variety of food items which are not commonly consumed. Once a year, Americans take the opportunity to indulge in a wide variety of uncommon delectables, including stuffing, cranberry sauce, and turkey. Turkey has been a staple in Thanksgiving dinners across the country for so long that the meat is almost always identified as the food that no Thanksgiving dinner finds itself complete without.
While many substitutes for the turkey have been implemented into Thanksgiving meals over the years, including goose, quail, and tofu, there is no substitute more grandiose, monstrous, and distinctly American, than the turducken.
While I have never tasted the dish for myself, it is safe to say that I never plan to for as long as I live in the United States, as the dish is too grotesque to even imagine consuming.
A turducken is the result of a cook recklessly coming to the conclusion that turkeys are somehow able to contain the entirety of two additional birds from witnessing families innocently filling stuffing into their Thanksgiving turkeys. A single turducken is a turkey that has had all of its bones removed and has been stuffed with a whole, deboned duck. The duck has all of its bones removed also because it is stuffed with a whole, deboned chicken. This trio of birds comes together to form a Russian doll of sorts, with each layer revealing a new meat for an American family to somehow enjoy and consume together.
While examining and analyzing this slimy, oily mess of a dish, there are a few traits apparent of the turducken that are distinctly American or remind me of what it means to live as an American citizens in the United States.
The existence of the turducken already indicates an American citizen’s natural desire to act as an individual with ideas separate from the ones already presented by the collective whole of society. The concept of American individualism revolves around the idea that Americans naturally want to act in a state free from the control of both their government and their social norms. In the case of the turducken, the popularization and implementation of the dish into Thanksgiving dinners every year signifies a desire for individuals in American society to have a dish that better represents them, a dish that is something other than the typical turkey. With the normalization of the turkey as the iconic Thanksgiving dish, it is only natural that there are some Americans who feel the need to act against that norm and serve a more individualized, unique dish on the holiday. The reason that the turducken is a much more unique option over simply eating a goose or quail for Thanksgiving is that the turducken has the highest amount of fat and calories.
This concept of American individualism is also present in the reasoning as to why some Americans feel like the calorie-heavy turducken is the best substitute for the typical Thanksgiving turkey. Turduckens are arguably oversized and too high in calories for American families to be consuming, even if they are just consumed over Thanksgiving. There is a large, substantiated stereotype that Americans frequently eat foods that are high in calories and are too unhealthy to be eating as part of one’s daily meal plan. In addition, this stereotype also involves the idea that Americans have too big portion sizes for their food, an idea that is very much present with the turducken. By replacing turkeys with a much unhealthier alternative, these individuals who do so show that while Americans have the need to act as individuals separate from the collective whole, we still, either consciously or unconsciously, act around the norms. Even though those who consume turduckens think they are acting as unique people with their own ideas, they are still choosing to go for the unhealthiest, largest turkey substitute because that type of food is the norm in the United States.
While the behaviors of the people who substitute turkeys for turduckens are distinctly American, the turducken itself exhibits characteristics seen in many Americans today and throughout American history. While a single turducken may seem like a larger version of a turkey on the outside, upon further consumption of the dish, multiple layers are revealed, each with an individual, distinct taste. This description parallels the description of a typical American citizen. There are no American people who have their ancestry purely American, since every American family line has come from another nation or culture at some point. Much like the turducken, each American citizen has roots that ties him to another culture or identity in addition to his American identity. This multitude of cultures is especially apparent in Americans who are not native-born or are second-generation immigrants. Much like how a turducken is a mishmash of different meats and does not know exactly what it is, non-natives and second-generation immigrants face an internal conflict to choose their identities and cultures. This marks a problem of conformity in the United States, where immigrants feel pressured to cast aside their original culture and beliefs in order to fit a more American culture, all just to fit in with their environment. Even though immigrants may choose to cast aside their cultural heritage, they will never be able to completely remove it from their identity, further complicating the internal conflict.
The turducken, being a layering of stuffed birds, is inherently its own entity entirely. Each type of meat comes together to form a dish of unique taste and texture, much like how American citizens are each collections of various cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities. Furthermore, turduckens act as a symbol for the issue of conformity among immigrants in the United States, where immigrants may face internal struggles of what culture they belong to and if their cultural heritage will be acceptable in American society. The creation and popularization of the turducken itself signals the American idea of individualism, where Americans may experience the need to act with individualistic, unique ideas as a result of societal pressures.In addition, the favoring of the turducken over other turkey-like substitutes marks a possible issue with American individualism, which is that while people may feel like they are acting as individuals, in reality they are most likely still acting around their social and cultural norms. Everything considered, with the turducken being such a mess of a dish, it still exhibits aspects and problems of American citizens and society that are not going away anytime soon. For everything wrong and unholy with the turducken, it still serves to remind us that the freedoms given to us by living as Americans come with a few downsides as well.