Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Exploding Turkey

A fairly new bride, I was planning my first Thanksgiving Dinner. The in-laws would be there, and so would our close friends. I was looking forward to the gathering with a mixture of anticipation and deep anxiety. Everything needed to be perfect. But as with most aspects of life, perfection is a goal, not a reality.

A good rule to follow is not to try anything new when you’re having company. I knew this, but turkey certainly wasn’t new, nor were the potatoes, corn, cranberries, and stuffing. What was new, however, was the method of preparation.

Space-age technology had found its way into the kitchen labs and the result was a marvelous cooking bag. You placed the stuffed turkey into the bag, placed the bag into the roasting pan, and then popped the whole affair into the oven. What could be simpler? No mess! No clean-up!

“When all else fails, read the directions.” Heard that piece of advice before? It’s easy enough to ignore when you don’t think it applies to you. This kind of arrogance can get you into quite a pickle, to use a food metaphor. I was no exception.

The procedure seemed so simple I didn’t think that reading the directions could possibly enlighten me any further. And so I didn’t. “Pride goeth before a fall.” Or in this case, an explosion.

Somewhere between the appetizer course and the ritual of setting the table, a sonic boom roared through the tiny apartment. This was accompanied by smoke. Everyone ran to the kitchen (not a long run) and watched with anxious faces as I nailed the source of the explosion. The turkey was plastered to the oven door, roof, and sides. Pieces hung from the broiling element like Cajun Christmas ornaments.

I had neglected to punch the appropriate holes in the bag to let off the steam. When the pressure reached critical levels, the laws of physics prevailed. Equilibrium was restored. We silently turned back to the table, took up our plates, scraped the main course onto them and proceeded with dinner. Needless to say it became cemented into family lore and I still hear about it, every Thanksgiving. “Remember when Karen blew up her first turkey?” It’s been the stuff of legend for the past 37 years.

I had nowhere to go but up. And from then on, I read the directions, whether I thought I needed to or not.


  1. This is an absolutely fabulous story!! I totally enjoyed it and I learned an important lesson we often forget in our tech-advanced world:

    Read the directions...

    Thankz, Karen, for a super post.


  2. So, apparently no one was injured…except the turkey, huh? What did you all do for dinner? This has the basis for a great short story. Uncle Fred hanging from the chandelier eating turkey and dressing. The neighbors staring in surprise as a drumstick comes flying through the window. There are lots of options, but, I’ll bet the reality was funny enough. Nice story.


  3. Too funny! Oh, that's hilarious. I hope everyone was a good sport about the Thanksgiving dinner that wasn't?

  4. Oh, how funny! These stories are the stuff of family legends! It's nice your guests were willing to scrape the main course onto their plates!


  5. Oh wow! I've heard that could happen. Glad it was only your pride(and the turkey, obviously) that were injured. Makes for a great tale though!

    Thanks for sharing!
    NA Sharpe

  6. Funny story, and very well told, Karen. Might be good to slip more humor, where appropriate, into the more serious blogs.


  7. Oh oh, poor turkey! I once did a disservice to a chicken. Microwave instruction was 4 minutes and I absently pressed for 4 hours. Around 10 to 15 minutes into it, black smoke came out...

    In Quest of Theta Magic

  8. LOL! What a great story, well deserving of being passed down each holiday.

  9. Ha! Loved this marvelous post and story. I too have learned the "hard way" to read the instructions. :)

  10. Nice antecdote. Its always amusing when an author uses a real event that not only is funny at their expense, but a lesson can be learned. I'll have to buy your book for my wife.

  11. An amusing story. I think I may use that in a novel, if you don't mind. I'll change the names to protect the guilty.

    alan chin
    author of Island Song,

  12. Love when you share personal stories! And the turkey is one everyone can relate to.

  13. funny! I think there was a Mr. Bean episode in which his turkey exploded and he ended up serving his guests raw onions.


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~ I'm the author of Headwind: The Intrepid Adventures of OSS Agent Katrin Nissen. If you're a WWII buff, you'll like it here!