October 5, 2009

String Me Along

I just finished reading Julia Child's My Life in France and Julie Powell's Julie & Julia. I love to cook so it was entertaining and informative to read both these books back to back. I remember watching French Chef when I was a kid (along with Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet -- what a souse he was -- I loved him.) and being in awe of this huge American woman with the strange voice. The way she chopped heads off fish, threw meat around, ran out of things to say and never managed to look in the right camera at the right time was fantastic.

This past Saturday I was flipping around the channels and stopped on PBS. There she was. Julia. And she was chopping heads off fish. She was every bit as big and bold as I remembered her. She was making Bouillabaisse and throwing everything in -- heads, bones, whole fish, eel, scallops, mussels and clams. It all seemed so haphazard yet looked delicious. But I'm allergic to mussels, and a whole fish staring up at me isn't my idea of a leisurely Sunday brunch so when the next segment aired and she was doing a roast chicken she had me. The boyfriend and I did a Beer Can Chicken last week and it was amazing, but watching Julia throw that poor bird around, prodding it with this and that, I heard the challenge and knew I had to pick up the gauntlet.

Thanksgiving in Canada is this coming weekend, and I always cook a turkey. I'll pick out my bird Wednesday and keep it cooling in the fridge until Sunday. (I've found a great place for organic turkeys, and they really do taste better that Butterballs.) And I want to do a Julia turkey, which means trussing.

tr.v. trussed, truss·ing, truss·es

To tie up or bind tightly.
To bind or skewer the wings or legs of (a fowl) before cooking.
To support or brace with a truss.

I've never attempted this before but Julia made it look so easy. She dug around in her cupboard and produced the largest darning needle known to humankind. It was about 12" long and about 1/4" in diameter. She threaded it with heavy string and proceeded to sew that thing up like she was mending a sail. "Just push the trussing needle through the legs, and up and around, roll the bird over and tuck the wings in here and push the needle through the top of the breast and roll the bird over again and fasten tightly." How hard could it be? I could do this. But...where in the hell do I buy string? Seriously. I can't think of a single place that sells string. I knit. I have plenty of yarn. But somehow I think Julia would not approve.

I googled "where to buy string" and I got a dozen hits for "strings for musical instruments". I then googled butcher's twine and discovered many other people asking where to buy it. Without twine how can we truss?

My dad had an old, empty peanut can with a hole punched in the plastic top. And in this can was a never ending supply of string. My dad isn't alive anymore. There are some things we children should ask our parents before they are gone. I never thought this would be one of them.

I know Guinness has a world record for the largest ball of string. It's currently at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane Stadium. If anyone out there lives nearby, maybe you could snatch a couple of feet and drop it in the mail to me. I don't need it until Sunday. Thanks.


Rosaria Williams said...

Do people still truss? I never trussed, not afraid to have the stuffing spill out a bit and add to the drippings. Happy Thanksgiving!

Lianne said...

Haha -- I don't know if people still truss, but what a great word. Thanks for the Thanksgiving wishes.

gh said...

I don't truss most people. . .oh truss as in to tie and bind eh well you can find twine at most any hardware store. I have a roll here that would be perfect for you. Got it at home depot.
I really enjoy your writing, you have a good sense of humor that comes out well and gives me a good laugh usually.
Julia Child could be menacing looking at times. That I remember of her when I was a kid

sallymandy said...

Hi Lianne: what a fun and funny post. My husband barely sets foot in the kitchen except to eat, but he does cook a turkey every Thanksgiving. He trusses it with dental floss.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment at my blog recently. I appreciate your opinions.

drollgirl said...

i am petrified to make a turkey! or bake one, or cook one, or whatever the proper terminology is! but maybe i should give it a whirl!

and all i can think of about julia child is that dan akryod impersonation on snl! it was super!

Sharon McPherson said...

I can't cook for toffee: More interested in eating than cooking. Even so, your post is brilliant: And the customary map ... love it!

Kit Courteney said...

Funnily enough, I bought some string not long ago - from the supermarket, in their stationery section. At the time I thought 'You don't see string around like you used to'... My childhood was FULL of string, I'm sure.

Nice post :0)

Kit Courteney said...

There's an award for you over at my blog :0)