F. Scott Fitzgerald's Guide to Thanksgiving Leftovers Is Brilliant

F. Scott Fitzgerald had some pretty strong ideas about the turkey we eat at Thanksgiving, and they weren’t entirely favorable.

|
Nov 14 2016, 4:00pm

Illustration by Adam Waito.

Illustration by Adam Waito.
The Crack-Up

F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda live on in our imaginations as the swinging embodiment of Jazz Age culture. A mere mention of their names evokes images of lolling about in the elegant mansions on the north shore of Long Island, or throwing back countless sidecars in Hemingway's Paris during the Roaring 20s.

In other words, Thanksgiving is probably not the first association when we think of the great writer, who succumbed to the vices of Hollywood and the pleasure of near-endless benders, or when we think of his iconic, schizophrenic wife.

We are here to tell you that the Fitzgeralds and Thanksgiving actually go together like sweet potatoes and marshmallows, or like Stove Top Stuffing and a stick-and-a-half of butter.

In fact, F. Scott Fitzgerald had some pretty strong ideas about the turkey we eat at Thanksgiving, and they weren't entirely favorable. We know this because in 1945, five years after the author's death, Fitzgerald's friend, the writer and critic Edmund Wilson, published a book called , which contained many previously unpublished letters, notes, and essays written by Fitzgerald.

In The Crack-Up was tucked a little-known gem called "Turkey Remains and How to Inter Them—With Numerous Scarce Recipes." That essay—with much humor and a not small dollop of turkey-hating irony—provides what Fitzgerald calls his "experience as an old gourmet" and, more specifically, his advice for using up copious amounts of leftover turkey. Fitzgerald writes that the ideas were "collected over years, from old cookbooks, yellowed diaries of the Pilgrim Fathers, mail order catalogues, golf-bats and trash-cans." We'll let you in on some of the best of his advice, but first, allow us to explain that, oddly enough, F. Scott was not the only one in the family with a legacy built, in part, on turkey.

For this part of the story, allow us to take you to lower Manhattan. From mid-2003 to September 2014, there was actually a wild turkey living in New York City's Battery Park that was named after Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda. The wild turkey, which was believed to be the only one living in all of Manhattan at the time, was given the name because Zelda—the person, not the turkey—was known, late in life, to aimlessly wander around the Battery Park area whilst in the grips of one of the several nervous breakdowns from which she famously suffered. Although Zelda—the turkey—survived Hurricane Sandy despite going missing during the storm, she was, sadly, killed by a car in 2014.

Another fun fact: Giuliani was the name given to a wild female turkey spotted in Manhattan's Riverside Park back in 2003. Although named for the former mayor (now-Trump-crony), Rudy Giuliani, the turkey may—in fact—have been Zelda (the downtown turkey) all along. The confusion has been attributed to a striking similarity between the markings on the turkey(s).

So, yes, the literary Fitzgeralds have quite the turkey-related history. Here now are some of F. Scott Fitzgerald's gems for dealing with leftover turkey:

Turkey Cocktail: To one large turkey add one gallon of vermouth and a demijohn of angostura bitters. Shake.

Turkey and Water: Take one turkey and one pan of water. Heat the latter to the boiling point and then put in the refrigerator. When it has jelled, drown the turkey in it. Eat. In preparing this recipe it is best to have a few ham sandwiches around in case things go wrong.

Turkey Mousse: Seed a large prone turkey, being careful to remove the bones, flesh, fins, gravy, etc. Blow up with a bicycle pump. Mount in becoming style and hang in the front hall.

Stolen Turkey: Walk quickly from the market, and, if accosted, remark with a laugh that it had just flown into your arms and you hadn't noticed it. Then drop the turkey with the white of one egg—well, anyhow, beat it.

Turkey à la Crême: Prepare the crême a day in advance. Deluge the turkey with it and cook for six days over a blast furnace. Wrap in fly paper and serve.

Feathered Turkey: To prepare this, a turkey is necessary and a one pounder cannon to compel anyone to eat it. Broil the feathers and stuff with sage-brush, old clothes, almost anything you can dig up. Then sit down and simmer. The feathers are to be eaten like artichokes (and this is not to be confused with the old Roman custom of tickling the throat.)

Turkey with Whiskey Sauce: This recipe is for a party of four. Obtain a gallon of whiskey, and allow it to age for several hours. Then serve, allowing one quart for each guest. The next day the turkey should be added, little by little, constantly stirring and basting.

Turkey Hash: This is the delight of all connoisseurs of the holiday beast, but few understand how really to prepare it. Like a lobster, it must be plunged alive into boiling water, until it becomes bright red or purple or something, and then before the color fades, placed quickly in a washing machine and allowed to stew in its own gore as it is whirled around. Only then is it ready for hash. To hash, take a large sharp tool like a nail-file or, if none is handy, a bayonet will serve the purpose—and then get at it! Hash it well! Bind the remains with dental floss and serve.

For Weddings or Funerals: Obtain a gross of small white boxes such as are used for bride's cake. Cut the turkey into small squares, roast, stuff, kill, boil, bake and allow to skewer. Now we are ready to begin. Fill each box with a quantity of soup stock and pile in a handy place. As the liquid elapses, the prepared turkey is added until the guests arrive. The boxes delicately tied with white ribbons are then placed in the handbags of the ladies, or in the men's side pockets.

What a learned turkey connoisseur!

It's a good thing F. Scott drank himself to death years before Zelda's feathered namesake came on the scene. That bird might have made a damn tasty cocktail, indeed.

Stories