The year of the tofu-turkey


Jessica Lewis

It was a dark and blustery Thanksgiving Day, and I was busy helping to prepare the meal for the swarm of crazies that fate made my relatives. Thanksgiving had become somewhat bland for me and the youngest of my five sisters. As the only two vegetarians in a family full of carnivores, we were outnumbered and outvoted on many occasions, but this year we had taken the lead, buying and preparing our own tofu-turkey. We were excited about the change to the usual menu, as we pulled the slightly gelatinous mass from it’s container, and plopped it onto the baking sheet. Two drum stick shaped objects, which appeared to be made out of frozen sawdust, landed on either side of the faux bird.

Lisa and I weren’t worried by the jiggley appearance of the object, because on the other side of the kitchen was a big headless bird, with no feathers, and some rather disgusting organs crammed inside of it. In comparison, ours didn’t look nearly as icky. We busied ourselves preparing the rest of the meal, while the tofu-turkey lie forgotten in the oven.

It wasn’t until we smelled an acrid scent, similar to burning plastic, that we remembered our sad creation. Smoke rolled off of it in waves, as we pulled the congealed blob from the oven. The outside looked slightly crisp, and the sawdust drumsticks were dry and shriveled. We thought perhaps it could be salvaged if we made the accompanying vegetarian gravy, and drizzled it over the top, so we mixed up another foul smelling concoction, and set the table.

This tale would end with the shriveled faux food left untouched on the table, if new love had not intervened. They say that love is blind, but on this occasion it was anosmic. I had just started dating the man who I would later marry. He knew I was the one responsible for the tofu-turkey, and because he didn’t want my feelings to be hurt, he took a heaping portion of the dried up not-bird. He forced a smile, suppressing the urge to gag, and lied “this is good.” He tried to cover the taste, by pouring large amounts of the gloppy gravy over his plate, but the look on his face showed that only made it worse. I tried to tell him that he didn’t have to consume anymore, but he was focused solely on choking down the foul fake fowl. He didn’t even seem to notice that neither Lisa nor I nor anyone else followed suit, at least not immediately.

To this day, in our household we are thankful on Thanksgiving. Thankful that there is an empty spot on the table where the tofu-turkey once sat. Even though Lisa and I still avoid the turkey on Thanksgiving day, we no longer have any desire to change the menu.