Off the Press

November 22, 2011

By Bob Taylor

Not all turkey legs are enjoyed equally

Bob Taylor Press sports editor

Ever since Issaquah Salmon Days, I have often been asked by people in the community how I enjoyed that turkey leg.

They were referring to a Salmon Days story written by Issaquah Press reporter Dave Hayes, our staff gourmet. Dave interviewed people who were dining on some of that scrumptious cuisine that is always at Salmon Days. One person he interviewed was Bob Taylor, who apparently enjoyed gnawing on a turkey leg.

That Bob Taylor was not I.

There is no way, and I reiterate, there is no way a turkey leg gets to my chops on Thanksgiving or any day.

I do not enjoy turkey legs, or even chicken legs, for that matter.

It has everything to do with my childhood. When I was just a little lad, every Thanksgiving my mother would put a turkey leg on my plate.

“You will enjoy this,” she would say.

It was not until I was almost 14 that I ever tasted the white meat of a turkey. I still prefer white meat, especially with a little gravy over it, along with dressing, some mashed potatoes and candied yams. Now, that is a plate to enjoy. A green vegetable is good, too.

Speaking of green vegetables, it was not until I discovered the wonders of frozen peas that I could eat those little buggers. My mother always insisted on shoveling canned peas onto my plate. Well, the peas stayed there for a long time, often past the end of the Texas-Texas A&M football game.

It was an aunt who finally got me to eat peas. One time at a Thanksgiving dinner at her house, she had prepared a dish of peas with pearled onions. My mother told her, “Bob doesn’t like peas.”

My aunt, who was very shrewd and a very good cook, put a dish of frozen peas next to my plate. I ate them. They were good. On that day I thanked God for Birds Eye!

Now, I do not want anyone to think that I was a finicky eater as a child. Finicky? Well, perhaps a little, but looking back now, it was more self-preservation. There were just some foods that my parents would put on my plate that did not look good, thus I thought they must not taste good, either. In many cases, I was right.

Take wax beans. Please, take them. My mother often cooked yellow, yucky wax beans. She would put a scoop of them on my plate. I tried several ways to dispose of those beans, even offering them to our old collie dog. He would not eat those beans, and that old dog ate just about everything. Even chewed up a bamboo tree once. But wax beans, even the mutt wouldn’t try them. So, those beans had to be bad.

I mentioned that I do not enjoy chicken legs. Again, it was another horror story from my youth. Every time we had fried chicken, I got a chicken leg. I was about 14 (again) when I first tasted a chicken breast. To this day, when we have chicken, I eat white meat.

As a child, at least during the early 1960s, you always obeyed your parents. When they suggested a certain food, you just thought you had to try it, right? For instance, take Chinese food. Every year when our family went into Portland, Ore., to do some Christmas shopping, there was a Chinese restaurant near the old Montgomery Ward store. My mother loved eating the No. 1 special — chow mein, egg foo yung, chicken fried rice, and sweet and sour pork.

My father, a veteran of World War II, did not enjoy Chinese cuisine. He always ordered the veal cutlet. He had also convinced me for years that I would not like Chinese food. So he ordered me a cheeseburger.

It was not until I was in college that I discovered the delights of chow mein and other delectable Chinese dishes.

So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for many things — good food, especially pumpkin pie, good people — and no turkey legs!

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