Talking turkey, that is.
Especially when you’re 6 or 7 years old and someone asks what exactly you’re going to do on Thanksgiving with that giant brown bird (or giant blue bird, but that comes later.)
That’s the existential question the 22 children in Julie Fry’s first-grade class at Roosevelt Elementary School are pondering. The budding cooks, artists and authors tackled the task of how to cook a turkey by writing their tips into a story, illustrating their ideas with a drawing, then explaining their thinking.
As Fry explains, the exercise “tries to balance narrative and informative writing.” With a smidgen of fun.
Some children (the boys) even felt compelled to explain how to capture the turkey in the first place. Suffice to say that the job involves ammunition, maiming, chopping and violence in general.
Once they got that out of their systems, everyone could concentrate on more nuanced particulars, such as where to cook the turkey.
Ivan Barragan will put his 40-pound bird on the barbecue grill, then serve it with chicken. (That pretty much covers the poultry course.)
No, don’t use the barbecue, insists Aydan Capi Mendez. “Cook it in a frying pan for some minutes and then have chocolate chip ice cream.”
Antonio Mendoza Heredia eschews the barbecue and frying pan as well as the oven. He’ll head right to the microwave and cook his turkey for 10 hours. While waiting (and waiting), he’ll augment with a side dish of quesadillas.
From the “man in a hurry” department comes Preston Cate. His turkey will bake in the oven but only for “one minute.”
In no rush, however, is Eli Heeringa. His turkey will do a slow burn, baking at 50 degrees.
Juan Padilla is vague about temperature and duration. He’s much more specific about what he’ll put on top of the turkey: carrots and tomatoes.
Toppings for this group are — how to say it? — over the top.
Caitlyn St. Clair will cook her bird for 50 minutes then add “whip cream and a little cherry on the top.”
Going with the sweet/sour dichotomy, Ciara Moctezuma-Nazarit will cover her turkey with chocolate and ketchup.
But what about the stuffing? Not to worry, these first-graders have that covered, too.
Mona Barajas will fill the inside of her turkey with feathers. Not fussy, she says any kind of bird feathers will do.
Monica Victoria is more specific. Her turkey will be stuffed with eggplant and six eggs.
Diego Segura is sticking with one food group: before he pops his turkey into the microwave, he’ll fill it with hot dogs.
Throwing cholesterol cautions to the winds, Raphael Gomez will stuff his turkey with bacon and sausage.
Tony Gutierrez is quite straightforward. Tomatoes and turkey — put them together, bake and that’s it.
Simplicity also agrees with Osiel Gutierrez. “Tak the turkey (from) the oven. Eat,” he writes.
David Rodriguez, too, has incisive turkey advice. “Eat it before it gets cold.”
For the record, size doesn’t matter. Mentioning that he’s better at cooking enchiladas than turkey, Adrien Perales is still game to try his hand. He’ll squirt barbecue sauce inside, then roast an 80-pound bird.
Fancy culinary terms don’t faze Trenton Worley. Brine the turkey? Sure, he says. “That means hunting the turkey.”
Details are important to Johanna Siebol, noting that a kitchen mitt is a necessity when cooking a turkey. That and serving bacon and gravy on the side.
Presentation is also essential. After cooking her turkey, Jalayna Abundiz will ask her dad to help her take it from the oven. Then she’ll place salad all around the finished entree.
Miguel Larios will bake his bird until it turns “blue.” Could that be because it’s cold? (He’s cooking it in the oven for “one minute.”)
And, before we put this turkey to rest, these first-graders won’t be preparing a holiday dinner without dessert.
Jadyn Cruz will serve a 4-pound turkey, then follow it with a final course of apples and soup.
Mikhaela Moore is all protein and sweets. First, she’ll bake her turkey with the feathers still on. That’s all her guests will eat until the dessert course, which will be bowls of cereal.
And that, in a nutshell, is how to create a memorable Thanksgiving meal, first-grade style.