Rendered Fat Content


Harry Annas:
Untitled [two men holding turkeys] (c. 1950)

"We're willing to go through Hell to receive that blessing."

The Muse and I start our annual search for Giblets as the holidays approach. When we lived closer to the beginning than the end of this economy's supply chain, our search was never in vain, for supplies of everything seemed more certain. We'd often drive a hundred miles to find some fresh citron, a point of considerable seasonal frustration, but Giblets were common and widely available then. Here, nearer the Center of the Universe but further from the source of much, supplies are such that it seems more a matter of luck than anything when we manage to assemble our seasonal essentials. It would be much simpler if we had ever managed just to lie down and accept the inevitable homogenization of even our most heartfelt celebrations. Had we settled for whatever we quickly found, we would have eliminated our seasonal running around. Still, as entropy continues trying to eradicate all tradition, it's gotten to the point that we take it as a personal challenge to continue our mission unto perdition if necessary. It sometimes seems essential.

I might refer to as Giblets any picky addition anyone deems necessary to properly celebrate.
For some, this comes as a specific style of rum; for others, it requires something essentially impossible to come by. The more difficult the search, the more significant the find. Some go out of their minds, insisting that if they cannot find a supply of a particular color of cardamom seed, their season's already ruined. We consider our needs more humble than that, as nothing noble but a peasant's wishes. The problem seems to have become that peasants no longer belong to any producer's target demographic, so stuff that was once as common as pebbles has now become rarer than hen's molars. Further, attempts to locate these supplies elicit blank stares from otherwise trustworthy suppliers. They almost revel in their ignorance when they reveal the depth of their ignorance. Giblet? What's that?

An honest butcher might admit that she hopes not to have to break down any turkeys to satisfy anybody's special request. If that happens, she'll admit that she might just manage to have a small supply of Giblets, but she's clear that she hopes she can avoid that hassle. It's not that we cannot somehow make do with just the Giblets our small turkey will provide. Still, it's always better when the Giblet content exceeds expectations, when both the gravy and the dressing can seem resplendent in their presence, and when every nibble includes a bit of gizzard or liver, if only for their sublime textures. We can make do on the scent alone if necessary, but we'd rather celebrate more generously. Thanksgiving, especially, encourages such excess.

The sense of success that finding a source for an impossible-to-find ingredient might serve as the underlying purpose of the whole damned season. It's almost nothing after so many decades to whip up the reliable old regulars. Something special makes the entire thing seem unique again, as if this might be the very first time celebrating rather than the three-thousand and ninth. Blessed are the citrons who somehow found their way to our table this season, smuggled in checked baggage after we stumbled upon them at Eataly in New York City. Blessed, too, are the Giblets, the part of the bird that the squeamish feed to their cat. The head cheese and herring, the odd-tasting Czech digestif, and the chestnuts roasted on something less than an open fire but still somehow traditional. We maintain our traditions for ample reasons. The day we submit to store-bought stuffing or frozen pumpkin pie seems like the day something necessary dies. We insist that the traditions will continue living through us, God willing. We're willing to go through Hell to receive those blessings.

"Bless these gizzards which we are about to receive, and the livers and hearts, and the other parts for which we have no names, for they ennoble our existence here and keep us sane."

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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