Today, deep-fried food is almost as American as apple pie—which, incidentally, can be dunked into a vat of oil and emerge with a greasy, crunchy coating, along with almost any kind of food. So it’s no surprise that, for some, deep-frying a turkey is a Thanksgiving tradition.
That tradition can be a risky one. Each year, deep-frying large birds backfires for dozens of Americans.
For the last seven years, Texas has led the country in most grease- and cooking-related insurance claims on Thanksgiving Day, with 38,according to insurance company State Farm. The runner-up is Illinois, with 27 reports. Pennsylvania and Ohio are tied for third with 23, while New York trails them with 22 claims. South Carolina and Georgia tallied 16 claims each.
The halcyon days have passed. Stock photos remind us of a darker time, when the best thing to do with your turkey was to throw on a set of pearls and get glamorous.
It is an extra big Thanksgiving for turkeys this year.
Mark it down: in 2013, the average weight for American produced turkey crossed 30 pounds for the first time. At least based on the January to October numbers for this year, we’re talking about an average weight of 30.47 pounds.
That’s a remarkable increase in average size. Go back a little further, like I did in 2008, and you see that we didn’t hit 15 pounds until the 1930s. In 1960, the average weight of a turkey was just 16.83 pounds. Even in 1985, it was only 20 pounds, and we didn’t hit 25 pounds until 1999.
And we owe it all to artificial insemination.
Read more. [Image: USDA]
(This isn’t the photo)
OK. I know I should just show you the picture because I promised it right there in the headline, but we should cover a few bases first.
Number one, vegetarians—or those easily grossed out—should not scroll down. You’ve been warned.
Two, in our times, food is often made into spectacle. Think: Iron Chef, hot dog eating contests, the world’s largest paella, penis pasta, molecular gastronomy, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, futurist dinner parties, turkey testicle festivals, sundry foods fried at fairs, gingerbread houses, and yes, the turducken, a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey.
Food is sustenance and nutrition, but it is also art and entertainment and provocation and worship (see: bacon, Thanksgiving).
So, if the people and activities and foods of the past seem impossibly strange to you… Look around.
Well, what Rocky Mountain oysters are to calves, ‘short fries’ are to turkeys.
Yes, it’s true. Turkey testicles—fried.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
KILIS, Turkey and JARABULUS, Syria — Malek, a 46-year-old Syrian farmer who lives outside the Kilis refugee camp in a litter-infested lot, asked me, “Will our suffering last long?” He, along with 200 refugees, most families, fled to Turkey after Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack in August.
These are grueling times for Syrian refugees. Since March 2011, when the peaceful protests began, more than two million Syrians have fled, seeking asylum in one of four neighboring countries — Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq — and leading to an increasingly unsustainable burden on these nations. Malek, who has a young son, asked, “All of the international community is working against us. Are we all animals? Is there no humanity?” He believes that this failure of foreign governments to assist the refugees has allowed Assad to “use us as wood for the fire in Syria.”
He breaks down in tears as he talks about the plight of his family and his countrymen.
Malek’s story is not an anomaly. On the Syrian side of the Jarabulus border crossing with the Turkish town of Karkamis, an unconscious rebel soldier is rushed by on a gurney, his severely disfigured face possibly the result of the intense clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (know inside Syria by its abbreviation ISIS) and pro-Western rebel groups. The al-Qaeda-linked ISIS reigns over Jarabulus, Syria, and aims to impose a Sharia-based Islamic state on the population.
Read more. [Image: Umit Bektas/Reuters]
Members of the sect that Assad belongs to think the rebels and their Sunni allies are nothing but trouble.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
ISTANBUL—In Istanbul’s religiously conservative Fatih neighborhood, the four-fingered yellow Rabia signs supporting Egypt’s pro-Morsi protest movement are ubiquitous, as residents unabashedly identify with the Muslim Brotherhood’s struggle against Egypt’s armed forces. But there is no sign of support for the impending Western military conflict with Syria. Given the devastating loss of life experienced by Syria’s Muslims, the silence punctuates increasingly mixed feelings in this country about an intervention that Ankara has long advocated.
Turkey, long hailed as one of America’s most important regional allies, has shifted from a vociferous advocate of intervention to an ambivalent player in the looming conflict as military action draws closer. This underscores the country’s domestic political constraints, as well as strains in the alliance between Washington and Ankara that have long been simmering just beneath the surface.
In many ways, Ankara has been the subcontractor of America’s Syria policy, owing mostly to its geographic location. But Turkey did not need America’s prompting, given the direct impact Syrian violence has had on the stability of its eastern flank, as well as concerns about Kurdish nationalism in Syria. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also used the Syria issue as a rallying cry in the Islamic and Arab world, decrying American and Western reticence to act as the death toll climbed to over one hundred thousand.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Today, Turkey and Egypt recalled their ambassadors from each other’s capitol, signaling a major downturn in bilateral ties. At the same time, Turkey’s influence in Cairo seems to be winding down.
Indeed, Turkey’s ambitious drive to become a Middle East power by influencing the region’s Muslim Brotherhood-inspired parties appears to have been upended. The Brotherhood has fallen from government in Egypt, failed to elect its candidate to lead the Syrian opposition, and has been sidelined in Libya. Qatar, which had hitherto allied itself with Ankara to fund MB-style parties, appears to be changing its heart after an unexpected change in leadership.
With the MB clinging to power only in remote Tunisia, Ankara has turned to an unexpected Middle East ally: Kurds, an ethnic group the Turkish government has historically been at odds with. Turkey’s goal this time, though, is not to shape the region, but simply to shield itself from massive Middle East instability.
Read more. [Image: Azad Lashkari/Reuters]
Before the Internet existed as a place to look at cute pictures of other people’s lives, exchange idle chatter, and, occasionally, thoughtfully discuss big ideas, there were coffeehouses. Many scholars see the coffeehouse as the ultimate symbol of the public sphere, particularly in European history — politicians, writers, and men of fashion would meet to gossip, enjoy a drink, and sometimes even foment revolution.
But coffeehouse culture may be under threat. In the 1950s, Vienna suffered a period darkly known as kaffeehaussterben, or coffeehouse death. Luckily for intellectuals and caffeine addicts, the United Nations Economic, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been on the case. Since 2011, the “Viennese coffeehouse” has been on its list of Austria’s protected “intangible cultural heritage.” UNESCO created this designation in 2003 in an effort to preserve significant parts of culture that don’t happen to be buildings or mountains. According to UNESCO’s website, the Viennese coffeehouse is “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill” — at the very least, this has to be the metaphysically interesting entry on the list.
Now, Turkey and Argentina are trying to follow Austria’s example by applying to get UNESCO’s cultural blessing over their coffeehouses.
Read more. [Image: UNESCO]