Funny Thanksgiving Help Hotline Stories
Preparing the big Thanksgiving meal can make for more questions than the SATs. How do you know when the bird is completely thawed? To stuff or not to stuff? We talked to four experts -- all veterans of holiday hotlines or advice shows -- to reveal the weirdest, funniest, most head-scratching Turkey Day questions they've ever fielded.
When I was the Thanksgiving online-help guy for The New York Times, someone emailed that he was in the Central African Republic and a friend had arrived with a smoked monkey, and did I have a Thanksgiving-appropriate recipe for that? I said, "Um," then consulted our library, the Web, and some reporters and cooks who'd spent time in Africa. Eventually, I found a recipe. You have to soften the monkey meat in a long soak, then cook it for a long, long time with a lot of hot peppers. Pass the cranberry sauce!
-- SAM SIFTON, author of Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well and national editor of The New York Times
A first-time cook called in tears on Thanksgiving morning. She was so proud to have thawed the turkey, but continued to rinse it with dish soap! The turkey wouldn't stop sudsing. If only she'd called before, she would have learned that you don't have to rinse the turkey before cooking it; you can just pat it dry with paper towels.
-- MARY CLINGMAN, director of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line
Once on our Thanksgiving-morning radio show, Turkey Confidential, we had a caller in search of unusual ways to cook a turkey. A roofer called to say there was only one way to go: Dump hot tar into a bucket, wrap the turkey in foil, throw the turkey into the bucket, then add more hot tar. We were sure he was joking, but you know, tar does stay hot for a long time!
-- LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER, host of American Public Media's The Splendid Table
The last call on the Rachael Ray show Thanksgiving help line was from a man asking how to roast a turkey -- a basic question, except the turkey was alive. "He's looking at me right now," the caller said. Now, I'm not trained in turkey butchery -- they're surprisingly big, and stronger than you'd think! -- so I sent him to his butcher. I still wonder if he wound up calling Domino's.
-- NINA ELDER, Every Day with Rachael Ray senior food editor