While visiting my sister in Virginia this past weekend, I had the chance to sample some fair food at her local Memorial Day festival. Keeping in mind that the motto of fairs seems to be a perverse Pollan paraphrase (Eat “Food.” Way too Much. Mostly Fried.) I feel lucky that my latest passion that I stumbled upon is something relatively (at least compared to fried oreos and coke) healthy: The Giant Turkey Leg. Vegetarian Spoiler Alert: I’m about to spend the next 350 words waxing rhapsodic about a big hunk of meat.
Before I relate how this deliriously-delicious drumstick brought a family and neighborhood closer together this Memorial Day weekend, let me first echo that sentiments of blogger Bobby McMahon: “One bite, and I knew that I had made a grand, delicious decision.” Tender, smoky, juicy, meaty. And that was just the first bite. If a pastrami sandwich from Katz’s Deli led a good and decent life, it would come back to Earth reincarnated as a State Fair turkey leg. It was that good.
But this turkey leg’s mere deliciousness is not why am I bothering my fellow Jewfoos (Jewish foodies) with this poultry panegyric. Let me tell you the rest of the story:
I nibbled on (OK, devoured like a caveman or holder of a Medieval Times frequent diner card) the turkey leg as I walked home from the fair, and when I reached my sister’s house, my notoriously-picky 14 month old daughter woke up famished from her mid-day nap. I proceeded to spend the next half hour feeding her bite after bite of the turkey leg, which she shockingly ate like nobody’s business. Well, not only did she have her best meal in ages, but there must be some truth to that Seinfeld episode, because she slept so soundly and for so long that night that we almost began to worry when we didn’t hear her 6am “wakeup call.” Score one for the Leg!
But the drumstick’s job was far from over. After a great lunch of leftover turkey with mustard (I wasn’t kidding about Katz’s) the following afternoon, I knocked on my sister’s new neighbor’s door, giant leg bone in hand, and gave them (well, their adorable black lab, anyway), the best housewarming present ever. My gift prompted the neighbor to pop by later and have his first extended conversation with my sister since he recently moved in with his family. Never underestimate the power of a shared meal – even between species!
So there you have it. Giant State Fair Turkey Legs. Not only smoky and delicious, but bringing communities together from Texas to Virginia to Minnesota, and anywhere else funnel cakes are sold.
Food Network Recipe for Smoked Turkey Legs
Website for ordering organic, kosher turkey legs
City, County and State Fair Schedule