The great problem with Thanksgiving is the turkey.
Those flash-frozen birds get sold in bulletproof blocks that can weigh as much as your average kindergartner, and when they roll those things out at your local grocery store, shoppers snatch them up.
And why not? You’ve got a family to feed and turkey is cheap, especially at this time of the year. It’s cheaper than bologna, which ought to make you question what kind of world we live in.
For Thanksgiving, I got my bird for something like 59 cents a pound, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone out there got a turkey for a lot less. Stores would cram them into cereal boxes as prizes if they could get away with it, I think.
After the feast, the only part of the meal that endures is the turkey. For days, perhaps weeks, leftover turkey returns in sandwiches, casseroles, and turkey hash. It will be added into soups, sprinkled in with salads and eventually pushed off on the family dog.
And we are not done with turkey after Thanksgiving. Turkey will show up again and again, be it at the inevitable work luncheon or on the dinner table at Christmas.
When you get tired of turkey pot pie, turkey a la king and festive turkey tacos, my suggestion is to just go someplace where you’re not going to find much in the way of turkey.
For me, that place is Big Joe’s on Capitol Street in Charleston.
Big Joe’s is the place you go to cleanse your palette of all things turkey. It’s where you go to banish the memory of the cranberry sauce, the weird Jell-O and cottage cheese science experiment your aunt makes every year, or those mushy, overcooked (yet bland) green beans that are topped with those stale, crispy onion things that remind me of cicada husks.
The menu is all sandwiches, burgers, fries and wings. The Juicy Lucy — which is a big wad of a burger stuffed with cheese — is a high point, but I’m also a sucker for a good ol’ patty melt. The editors of my newspaper are fans of the boneless wings — and they have been kind enough to share from time to time.
The food at Big Joe’s comes hot, heavily seasoned, and unapologetically greasy. Eating at Big Joe’s will do nothing to upset your holiday season diet, which tradition dictates should be the kind of disaster that would make Richard Simmons weep. Besides, normal people worry about healthy eating in January.
Still, if you really want turkey, you can find it at Big Joe’s. It’s at the very bottom of the menu, listed as a minor ingredient in the chef salad. Thankfully, I imagine this is only a few ounces of meat that could be easily drowned in ranch dressing.