Katy Burns: Turkey and Stuffing . . . what?

Monitor columnist
Sunday, November 19, 2017

You know you’re of a certain age when you think a potato chip should taste like a potato chip. Potatoes. Oil. Salt.

In fact, those have been the only ingredients needed in the preparation of the tasty little snacks for decades, at least since killjoy nutritionists pointed out that lard – the original cooking medium – really was too unhealthy even for potato chips.

Potato chip purveyors have been tweaking that formula for more than a few years. We’ve had the “reduced fat original” offering from Cape Cod chips, our personal go-to chip company. Okay, that’s just a technical twist in the formula. And replacing regular salt with sea salt is also within the boundaries.

Sea salt and olive oil, a variation sold by Trader Joe’s, is acceptable. The basics are there.

But – to cite some of Cape Cod’s more recent offerings – Sweet Mesquite Barbecue chips? Aged White Cheddar? Sweet & Spicy Jalapeno? I’m not sure what these things are, but they sure aren’t potato chips.

Now Thanksgiving is on the horizon, and leave it to American inventors – optimistic, brave, and sometimes more than a little nutty – to come up with the ultimately ersatz bad “potato chip.” Or I should say potato chips. There is more than one offender.

We recently have been bombarded by a radio promo pushing the news that we can go to our local Trader Joe’s to get – drumroll here – Turkey and Stuffing flavored potato chips!

And if that proves inconvenient – after all, our “local” Trader Joe’s is in fact in Nashua – we can order online Turkey & Gravy chips from a Colorado outfit called Boulder Canyon Foods. And Boulder Canyon also has Pumpkin Pie flavored chips for dessert!

A friend, on hearing of the turkey chips, said that he was “disturbed by the idea of turkey and stuffing flavored potato chips.” As he should have been. But then, upon reflection, he said that he might just buy a couple of bags and eschew cooking altogether.

People, this is wrong. Period. It has to stop.

There is enough amiss in this treasured country now, as our nation’s institutions, traditions and culture are being sacked by the 21st-century equivalent of the 6th-century Vandals who ran riot through Gaul and Spain destroying everything in their path. Surely we must stand firm for one of the most cherished traditions of our hard-won national identity: Thanksgiving.

Let’s be blunt: Without Thanksgiving as we have always known it – a celebration of our freedom to feast on freshly roasted and succulent turkey with rich, brown gravy, bowls of steaming potatoes mashed with scoops of butter and cream, and platters of fragrant stuffing, plus a savory butternut squash and pecan casserole for the non-meat-eaters and a bowl of buttered green beans because, well, a bit of color perks up the table – we might as well have stayed serfs in a global British Empire.

It is, after all, British culture that celebrates such “delicacies” as toad in the hole (sausages baked with a Yorkshire pudding batter and served slathered in gravy), spotted dick (a sponge pudding made with suet and dried fruit served with custard) and, a pub favorite, Scotch egg, a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage, rolled in crumbs and deep-fried.

These are the same people who have carried potato chips – called “crisps” over there, presumably just to demonstrate once again that they can’t really speak proper English – to such extreme “flavors” as Mint & Lamb, Worcester Sauce & Sundried Tomatoes, Smoky Bacon & Sunday Roast Potatoes, Sunday Best Roast Chicken, Pork Sausage & English Mustard, Sweet Cured Ham & Pickle, Haggis (haggis!) & Cracked Black Pepper, and Pickled Onion.

Turkey and Stuffing chips would fit right into this culture. And think about that. Do we really want these people dictating our potato chip flavors? Or for that matter, the menu of our great national holiday?

It is bad enough that in recent years some of our more foolhardy national compatriots have experimented with the dangerous-to-cook deep fried turkey or the Frankenstein monster-like thing called turducken – a whole turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken.

Some misguided gurus of haute – or at least strange – cuisine have put forth such bizarre turkey variants as a boudin blanc – white sausage – of wild turkey and fried Ipswich clams served with roasted Japanese yams with a chestnut curry sauce.

But these flights of cuisine fancy have limited cookbook life, if they even make it to a cookbook. And with luck the same will be true – sorry, Trader Joe’s – for Turkey and Stuffing potato chips.

Here’s to a good, old-fashioned Thanksgiving that even the demolition artist on Pennsylvania Avenue can’t destroy.

(“Monitor” columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)