Engastration, which lies somewhere between a creative culinary delight and the result of a petting zoo disaster, experienced a considerable trend spike in the past several years, but is now coming out of a plateau and into a sharp plummet . For those not familiar with the technical term, engastration involves stuffing one animal within another, within another, within another (and so on). In the event that this description does not sound familiar, allow me to sum it up in one pseudo-word: TURDUCKEN.
The turducken, what can be said….popularized by none other than John Madden, it seems that chefs have achieved in the kitchen what animal husbandry has failed, with considerable effort, to accomplish in thousands of years: create the holy grail of a birdlike agglomeration that pairs well with cranberry sauce, a warm red beet salad, AND bbq sauce. How did mankind progress so far in all of these centuries without this convenient consolidation?
Unfortunately, like many food novelties, once everyone’s Uncle Terry or Cousin Steve has bought or constructed this unnatural combination and brought it to at least one family function (explaining in intricate detail how truly novel this dish is, almost as novel as the cyclical rediscovery of deep frying turkeys or roasting a chicken with a beer can up its butt), interest begins to fade. In other words – the turducken’s wings have been clipped! The only possible salvation of this as a trend might be to expand the range of the animals stuffed into one another. Starting with inserting a Baluchistan pygmy jerboa into a mole and ending by stuffing an elephant into a blue whale may, but not with total certainly, give this trend a few months more life.
As a public service announcement, I would like to interrupt this trend observation with the following warning: Reader beware, the turducken is not to be confused with a turd-auckin, which is German for “turd sandwich”. It seems that this homophonic linguistic mistake has created a parasite trend in the demand, preparation, and serving of turd sandwiches at eateries throughout the world. The timing could not be more fortuitous, because where the German’s are slipping in overall engineering prowess, they are making up for it with some very well-engineered turd sandwiches. OK, so maybe this is less of a public service announcement than an opportunity to repeatedly use the phrase turd sandwich while taking a jab at a lagging trend that erroneously assigns exceptional engineering to all things German……..thank you, now back to our regularly scheduled entry.
There is not doubt that the actual turducken trend was catapulted by Madden in the first decade of the 2000s, but non-turducken engastration reached its peak several centuries ago. Historically speaking, one of the earliest documented forms of engastration is the whole roasted camel, which is traditionally a camel stuffed with a lamb, which is stuffed with a coup full of chickens, who are each individually stuffed with a variety of goodies – rice, apples, eggs, and seemingly anything else that meets the requirement of being mildly edible, available, and able to fit inside a chicken. Think of it as a paperless piñata, of sorts, that you hack open with a machete rather than a stick, and you are treated to a variety of flesh and mammal giblets rather than candy. It is said that the whole roasted camel provides a feast that will feed upwards of 80 people, and is typically reserved for special occasions among the very elite. Due to the scale of this engastration undertaking and the relative shortage of “roasting grade camels”, the reader will quickly understand why the whole roasted camel has been a declining trend over the past several centuries, with a current rate of two such dishes being produced annually, worldwide.
Unfortunately, there is an economic factor associated with the fading of any widespread trend (ask the quarry that provided the raw materials for pet rocks), and there is no amnesty here. Financial loss to the engastration industry – the turducken machine – is rippling across the globe. Nothing points to the struggle to stay relevant more readily than the panicked and transparent attachment of the turducken to several rising trends. In the past few weeks, you have no doubt been bombarded by the viral Norwegian video “What Does the Turducken Say?” and more brazen – the inundation of Pinterest and Facebook with recipes for turducken cupcakes with a bacon moustaches.
Gobble, quack, cluck – put a fork in it, the turducken