Talking turkey and other Thanksgiving goodies

Eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes was a fan of Swanson's frozen TV dinners, especially the turkey entree, reports the Chicago Tribune. But he didn't like the fact that there was both white and dark meat, and wanted peach cobbler for dessert rather than apple cobbler. One of his aides asked Swanson's to make the changes, but when they refused, Hughes tried to buy the company. He was unsuccessful ... In the spring, a wild male turkey's head can turn a brilliant red, white or blue, often changing in just seconds. That was not the reason Benjamin Franklin argued that the turkey would be a better national symbol than the bald eagle ... An adult male turkey is a tom, and a young male turkey is a jake ... Hunting a wild turkey is very difficult. The bird appears dumb and slow. In fact, Tom has fantastic hearing, amazing eyesight, can out-run a hunter (15 miles per hour), and can fly even faster, He's paranoid, so he'll flee at the slightest provocation.


Before you reach for the candied yams this Thanksgiving, there's something you need to know, reports the Huffington Post. They're not actually yams! All this time Americans have been making the mistake of calling sweet potatoes yams. It turns out sweet potatoes and yams are not even related. They are two different species of root vegetable with very different backgrounds and uses. The U.S. government has perpetuated the error of labeling sweet potatoes "yams." In most cases sweet potatoes are labeled with both terms, which just adds to the confusion. Since there are two types of sweet potatoes, one with creamy white flesh and one with orange, the USDA labels the orange-fleshed ones "yams" to distinguish them from the paler variety. Digging deeper for the differences, sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) come in two main varieties here in the States. One has a golden skin with creamy white flesh and a crumbly texture. The other has a copper skin with an orange flesh that is sweet and soft. All sweet potato varieties generally have the same shape and size -- they are tapered at the ends and much smaller than the aforementioned yams. Yams (family Dioscoreaceae) are native to Africa and Asia and other tropical regions. They are starchy tubers that have an almost black bark-like skin and white, purple or reddish flesh and come in many varieties. The tubers can be as small as regular potatoes or grow upwards of five feet long. The word yam comes from an African word, which means "to eat."


This year, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) estimates that 14 million Americans will dine out for Thanksgiving, and an additional 16 million Americans will order take-out to supplement their Thanksgiving feast. Surveying 1,011 American adults, the NRA also found that 55 percent of American adults plan to eat at their own home this Thanksgiving, 46 percent plan to eat at someone else's home and three percent don't plan to have a special meal. Convenience is the main factor for those using take-out for part or all of their Thanksgiving meal. Other reasons include the fact that they aren't good cooks (15 percent), they don't have time to prepare food (10 percent), and the taste and quality of restaurant food is better (3 percent).


Year-round outdoor cooking is on the rise, and it even applies to the Thanksgiving meal. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association 2011 State of the Barbecue Industry report, 15 percent are cooking part of their Thanksgiving meals outside.


The theory that tryptophan in the Thanksgiving turkey causes the common post-dinner nap does not make physiological sense, registered dietitian Joan Salge Blake writes in the Boston Globe. It is more likely that people feel tired after Thanksgiving dinner because the gastrointestinal tract is working so hard to digest the large meal, which redirects blood away from the brain.


From all of us at Food Processing, Happy Thanksgiving!