Turducken: Where Does It Come From?

The unnatural trio of turkey, duck, and chicken might initially make your stomach curl, but the supposed supernatural taste of the turducken might just appease the staunchest of food critics. This chicken in a duck in a turkey has become a nationwide phenomenon in the past decade – so much so that NFL commentator John Madden awards a turducken to the winning team of the Thanksgiving Day game (usually the Detroit Lions versus the Dallas Cowboys). Just this year, though, Madden announced he would be returning to the traditional turkey for Thanksgivings henceforth.

The unlikely combination of birds actually makes for a nice blend of dark and white, dry and juicy meats. Preparing and cooking the perfect turducken takes at least ten hours. Start by deboning all the birds and preparing a cornbread and sausage stuffing. Basically, the turkey is laid flat and spread with a layer of stuffing. The duck is placed on top of the turkey (add another layer of stuffing), and the chicken (with leftover stuffing inside) is placed on top of the duck. Carefully wrap the turkey as you normally would and cook as usual. The advantage of turducken is that everything is edible, and you don’t have to work around the bones. Just dig in and enjoy the mixture of tastes.

So, when did the turducken come to be? And where does it come from? Turducken is strictly American fare, as nowhere else in the world would someone even think to combine these three distinctly tasting birds into one Thanksgiving feast. This tri-bird can be traced back to the Deep South – likely somewhere in Louisiana – some time in the early to mid 1980’s. Despite not being able to deep fry it as you would chicken, duck, or turkey separately, the turducken seems to come from a Cajun tradition. Some people credit Cajun-creole fusion chef Paul Prudhomme with creating the dish as part of the Duvall Days Festival in Duvall, Washington in 1983. However, Calvin Trillin in the November 2005 issue of National Geographic magazine traces the turducken’s origins to Maurice, Louisiana, where “Hebert’s Specialty Meats” has been commercially producing turduckens since 1985. The company still prepares around 5,000 turduckens per week during the holiday season.

Tofurkey-loving vegetarians might just be appalled at the pounds of meat that make up the turducken, but families across the nation are still cheering for this great new holiday staple.

Try the Red Savina chicken wings at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap, a tavern located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, announced last Thursday that it will begin selling chicken wings coated in one of the world’s hottest chili peppers: the Red Savina. For reference, the Red Savina is roughly twice as hot as the habanero, and 65 times hotter than a jalapeno.

The wings, according to a Reuters story, “will be served with an alarm bell for patrons to summon waiters with sour cream, milk sugar and white bread if things get out of hand.” Those brave enough to sample the three-alarm wing “must sign waiver agreeing not to sue for injuries.”

Sure, the move is no doubt a bid for publicity (hey look, it worked) similar to those serving up overpriced dishes like the $1,000 brownie, but some hardcore wing connoisseurs might actually make the pilgrimage. I’d try one.

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap
41 E. Superior St.
Chicago, IL 60611

[Via All Night Surfing]

Fight global-warming by eating chicken

For someone who is a sacrilegious beef-eating Hindu carnivore, I have many ‘official’ reasons to quit eating meat, but I love my steak and chicken-wings, so that’s not going to happen. (In my caste, we cannot even eat egg).

Which is why I was thrilled to read that eating chicken can help combat global warming drastically!

A recent story on Salon explains in a nutshell: the amount of energy and resources we invest in breeding animals for food, alongside naturally toxic excretions of those animals, is more responsible for global-warming than burning fossil fuels. However, poultry are the least polluting. (Gore, did you know this?).

The story throws in some shocking statistics:

  • “livestock accounts for 18 percent of global warming emissions worldwide, more than the entire transportation sector” — why is this not in Al Gore’s film?!
  • “cattle, bison, sheep and goats burp out a lot of methane that traps 23 times more heat per ton than carbon dioxide” — and we’ve been fretting about spraying deodorant?!
  • “the difference between a vegan diet and one that includes cheeseburgers is less than 2 tons of greenhouse gases a year — that’s about the equivalent of switching from a Camry to a Prius” — I wonder what Toyota would have to say about that.

With that in mind, eating beef is the worst; then comes cattle, sheep and goat; and then pork and dairy products are relatively less harmful. Pork and dairy hold the same place in the environment?!

Conclusion: if you want to change your diet to combat global-warming — eating chicken is the best thing you can do. Chickens don’t “burp” methane and they produce only one-tenth the methane of cattle waste.

Now who would have thought!

How To Carry A Chicken (Around the World)

Earlier today, I saw a post on Kevin Kelly’s blog about how to move live chickens in China that featured some remarkable images. According to Kelly, “You get some large sacks, poke some holes in the top, weave the birds into each so each head it sticking out, and then you can throw the entire sack on a bicycle or truck. The birds were quiet and seemed to like the swaddling.”

Naturally, it reminded me of the chickens my neighbors in Zambia used to tote. While most people carry chickens in a relatively “humane” way — by holding them under their bellies, between the legs — not everyone in the world is so thoughtful. Here are some ways you might expect to see chickens toted in other parts of the world.

In PNG, you might see chickens carried on a stick. Looks like he’s going fishing!

on a stick

In Ethiopia, the chickens might be strapped to a donkey.


In Burkina Faso, don’t be surprised to see them hanging from the back of a motorbike.


They do it the same way in parts of Vietnam.


In other parts of Vietnam, though, they may protect the chickens in baskets.


In Mali, they might use a bike.


Same goes for China — though they might have some sophisticated-looking cages.


Or just some woven baskets.


They use baskets in Nepal, too — but no bikes.


In parts of Africa, they use baskets AND cars.


Whereas in parts of Ecuador, some people prefer the low-tech feel of wooden poles.


In Bali, you might see chickens carried in beautifully-woven baskets.


The Burmese might use baskets.


Some Guatemalans use baskets, too.


In India, they transport them in baskets and then keep them together in netted playpens.


This shot was taken in Vietnam’s Bac Ha market — but it looks like it could’ve been taken in rural Africa.

Bac Ha

But this is usually how I saw them transported:

Sierra Leone

In Malaysia, you might find them wrapped in paper and tied up with a pretty bow.


Finally, I’m not exactly certain where this photo was taken — somewhere in SE Asia, I think — but I do know that you shouldn’t park or stand next to it.


And we’ll close this photo essay with the most ridiculous video EVER: learn how to put a chicken to sleep in under 60 seconds.


kabobTowards the end of my work week last week sometime while working in Rockville, Maryland I decided to pop into Yekta, a restaurant specializing in kabob and other fine Persian dishes. It was a good decision too. Normally I would have tried the koobideh (skewered lean ground beef) or kabob-e barg (flattened strips of marinated beef), but since I’m shying away from red meat temporarily I went for the white meat. The chicken kabob was well done. From time to time I find chicken can just be a little too boring for my tastes, but the cooks seasoned this to perfection. I was impressed and the serving was of a decent size which included rice, tomato, and bread. Only thing that didn’t seem to impress me or the person who referred me to the spot were the prices. For kabob it seemed as though they could have lowered the cost by a buck or two, but a meal at Yekta won’t send you into debt either so give it a try!

Yekta is located at 1488 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852. (Easily accessible from Washington D.C.) Ph. 301.984.0005. www.yekta.com