Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Horrific Folktales of the Turkeys: Hansel and Gobble

It's that time again:  time for another harrowing tale with our favorite turkey protagonists.  You might think this turkey tale sounds familiar, but you'll be surprised.  There's more to this fowl species's folklore than you may think.  So sit back (but keep a straight posture), relax (but not too much), and enjoy (no restrictions on this)!

            Listen closely children to these harrowing tales.  They have been passed down from turkey to turkey for many generations, being translated from the ancient Gobbleguese to our modern French along the way.  While they may make your feathers shiver, if you pay attention, you may avoid a fate similar to what befalls our poor friends in these stories.

            Hansel was a charming young boy who owned a charming young turkey.  His fowl pet was named Gobble, for lack of more developed creativity.  Hansel and Gobble lived with the boy’s parents on the edges of the outermost town from the center of the country.  They were so far away from everything, including grocery stores, that once a week Hansel’s parents had to take an excursion into the forest (that was the only thing they were near to) to hunt and gather their food.  It was a successful mode of living, and Hansel’s family, including Gobble the turkey, was content.
            One day, which predictably turned out to be a fateful one, Hansel came up with an inspired idea.
            “Mother, father, can I go to the forest today to do this week’s shopping?”  “Shopping” was what they jokingly called their means of food production.
Hansel’s parents, concerned that he was too young to hunt and gather alone, quickly dismissed his plea.  “Hansel, we’re concerned that you are too young to hunt and gather alone, so we’re going to quickly dismiss your plea,” said his father.
“But I won’t be alone.  Gobble can come with me.”
At this, Gobble, who had been sleeping, perked up.  He knew he was being dragged into something he probably would rather not do.  In actuality, anything that could not be classified under sleeping was on Gobble’s mental list of things he’d rather not do.  In this case, he had a rational excuse:  the forest was an unpredictable place, especially for tasty boys and their young turkeys—I mean, young boys and their tasty turkeys.
            “Gobble, gobble!” exclaimed Gobble.
            “See, he wants to come along,” interpreted Hansel.  This, of course, was the exact opposite of what the turkey meant.  “I promise to be super careful.”
            Hansel’s father looked at his spouse, who just shrugged.  “Fine.  You can go.  But be back before dark.”
            “Thank you!  We’ll come back with as much food as we can hold,” shouted Hansel as he skipped out the door, with Gobble reluctantly following.
            “I doubt that,” grumbled Hansel’s father.
            “Sweetie, the least we can do is give him a chance.  We’ll just go shopping in the woods tomorrow,” replied Hansel’s mother.
            “I guess you’re right.  We should always strive to provide our only child with plenty of worldly experiences as he grows up.”
            “You’ve been reading that parenting book I got you, haven’t you?”
            Hansel’s father smiled sheepishly.  “I have.  Though some of the advice doesn’t seem well thought out.  Like, ‘avoid witches at all costs.’  Doesn’t really seem to belong in the book.”
            “Oh, I’m sure the writers were just having some fun.”
            “I suppose.”
            Meanwhile, Hansel was still skipping merrily between the trees.  Gobble was anxiously trotting behind his owner, trying to keep up.  However, what was slowing Gobble down wasn’t the fact that he was turkey.  No, the hindering factor was that the bird was placing pellets of feed along the ground every few yards.  This way, Gobble reasoned, they would be able to find their way back home.  And as they retraced their steps, Gobble would get a tasty meal.
            After hours of meandering through the forest, Hansel had not found any animals to hunt or picked a single berry.  Just when he was getting ready to give up, the pair reached a clearing.  In it stood a cottage.  But it was not your ordinary cottage.  It was covered in sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, stuffing, apple crisp, green beans, mashed potatoes, pecan pie, you name it.  All of the Thanksgiving meal staples were the building materials for this quaint home.  Except for one.
            Hansel, who having walked several hours was famished, sprinted to the cottage and began to tear off chunks of food, stuffing them in his mouth.  Gobble cautiously followed, and, after having observed his owner to make sure the food was safe to consume, began to peck at the house.  It was delicious.  Everything tasted freshly cooked, though that could not have been the case; the house was definitively of an older architectural style.
            After several minutes of feasting, an old woman crept out of the Thanksgiving cottage.  Hansel and his turkey were too busy scarfing scrumptious victuals to notice her.  The woman coughed quietly to try getting their attention.  They kept eating.  She barked a little louder.  Still no reaction.  Finally, she shouted, “Hey, boy and turkey!  Look over here!”
            Hansel and Gobble quickly turned, sweet potatoes and pumpkin seeds falling out of their mouths in the process.  They were ashamed of what they had done, for they knew they were stealing someone’s food, not to mention dismantling the house.  But the old woman was not mad.
            “If you want more Thanksgiving cuisine, you can come inside.  I just cooked another pecan pie,” she said.  Without a second’s hesitation, the visiting pair rushed inside, already salivating at the thought of more deliciousness.
            At this point in the tale, it would be appropriate to relate to you that this old woman who lived in the Thanksgiving food house was a witch.  Not a witch as in a mean person; she was actually a witch.  And she had witchy plans.
            “Here you go, boys,” the witch said sweetly to Hansel and Gobble, offering them a steaming plate of Thanksgiving treats.  “Eat up.”
            As the two stuffed their bellies with food, they began to grow tired.  This was not turkey tryptophan-induced sleep; as you’ll remember, turkey was the only Thanksgiving food absent.  Also, a turkey eating another turkey is just plain immoral.  Instead, the witch had laced the food with a sleeping potion.  Soon, they were asleep, and the witch could move forward with her plan.
            The witch always cooked Thanksgiving food, but her favorite meal was human boy stew.  And that was precisely what she planned to make with Hansel.  As she boiled the water, she locked Hansel and Gobble into cages to prevent them from escaping when they awoke.  Soon, the stew base was ready for its featured component.
            Fear makes human boys taste better, so the witch proceeded to wake Hansel up before adding the final ingredient to her meal.
            “Boy, it’s time to wake up.  You have a job to do,” said the witch sweetly.
            “What?  Do I need to go shopping in the woods again?” asked Hansel sleepily.
            “No.  You need to add yourself to my stew.”
            After this unexpected reply, Hansel was wide awake.  “You can’t do that!”
            “Oh yes I can.  Just watch.”
            “I won’t taste good.  I only—”
            But before Hansel could explain why he wouldn’t taste good, the witch picked him up and threw him into the cauldron.  After a few hours of stewing, her dinner was ready.  She picked up a ladle and took a big, messy slurp.
            “Yuck!  This stew is disgusting!  That boy tastes horrible.”
            This was precisely what Hansel was trying to explain.  Due to living off forest game and gathered produce, he was extremely lean and tough, with no flavor at all.  The witch now had to find a way to save her stew.  She turned to Gobble, who was still fast asleep.
            “I wonder how turkey tastes?” she asked aloud.  “Only one way to find out.”
            With a new plan laid out, the witch picked up Gobble, waking him with a start.  Immediately, he knew something was amiss.
            “Gobble, gobble!” he cried.
            “Yes, I would be happy to add you to my stew,” replied the witch.  This, of course, was the exact opposite of what the turkey meant.  With no further delay, she threw the turkey into the boiling pot.  A few hours later, her stew was ready again.  She cautiously tried a spoonful.  It was delicious.
            “This is the best stew I’ve ever had.  That turkey really did the trick.”
            The witch spread the food news to her coven; after tasting the turkey, they all agreed that it was delicious.  From that day on, the witches incorporated turkeys as a main part of their Thanksgiving feasts, making the Thanksgiving meal how we know it today:  dangerous for turkeys.

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