Two Thanksgiving meals

… both non-standard.

One continues a recent tradition at my house that involves vermicelli Singapore-style from the local Hong Kong Chinese restaurant Tai Pan (this year accompanied by hot and sour soup).

The other is a recent tradition at the Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine CA, each year featuring a menu of inventive Mexican-based (sometimes quite distantly) dishes — among them, this year, turkeritos (foodmanteau alert!), incorporating seasoned beef, rice, and cheddar cheese, but apparently no turkey; the turkey’s contribution seems to be entirely verbal, in honor of the holiday. (It’s also possible that the turkeritos were tacos — folded corn tortillas — rather than burritos — wrapped wheat tortillas.)

Zwicky Thanksgivings. From my 11/24/11 posting “Thanksgiving meals”:

I’ve already posted about Adam Gopnik’s suggestion that the centerpiece dish for the holiday should be turkey with pesto and Calvin Trillin’s opinion that it should be spaghetti carbonara.

For some years, Ann Daingerfield Zwicky and I usually had some kind of roast for Thanksgiving (but mostly chicken, lamb, pork, beef, or veal, rather than turkey, which we cooked at other times of the year). Then when it was just Jacques and me, I branched out — a couple years, a smoked turkey by mail, then a variety of experiments, eventually settling on my new favorite, posole (pork and hominy stew…). Then it was just me and cooking was physically very difficult for me, so I took to celebrating the holiday at the excellent local Hong Kong restaurant, Tai Pan, with its dim sum lunch and substantial menu in addition.

Singapore from Hong Kong. The centerpiece of the Tai Pan meals is always vermicelli Singapore-style, often with crunchy green beans or crispy fried noodles or dim sum or (as today) hot and sour soup. On the vermicelli, from Wikipedia:


“Singapore”-style noodles … is a dish of stir-fried rice vermicelli seasoned with curry powder, vegetables [especially sweet peppers, in yellow, red, and/or green], scrambled eggs and meat, most commonly chicken, beef, char siu pork, or prawns [at Tai Pan it’s shrimp and pork].

The dish, despite its name, is neither created, found, nor eaten in Singapore. It is very commonly found at Cantonese-style restaurants and take away eateries in Hong Kong. The dish is also very popular in English, Australian, Canadian and American Chinese cuisine.

Burrito background. Burritos have come up on this blog a number of times, mostly in connection with foodmanteau names, but I’ve taken them for granted. Now, from Wikipedia:

(#2) A Mission-style burrito

A burrito … is a type of Mexican and Tex-Mex food, consisting of a large wheat flour tortilla with a filling, wrapped into a closed-ended cylinder, in contrast to a taco, where the tortilla is simply folded around the filling. The flour tortilla is sometimes lightly grilled or steamed to soften it, make it more pliable and allow it to adhere to itself when wrapped.

In Mexico, meat and refried beans are sometim the only fillings. In the United States, burrito fillings may include a combination of ingredients such as Mexican-style rice or plain rice, beans or refried beans, lettuce, salsa, meat, guacamole, cheese, sour cream and various vegetables. Burrito sizes vary.

… Burritos are a traditional food of Ciudad Juárez, a city in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua bordering El Paso, Texas, where people buy them at restaurants and roadside stands. Northern Mexican border towns like Villa Ahumada have an established reputation for serving burritos. Authentic Mexican burritos are usually small and thin, with flour tortillas containing only one or two ingredients: some form of meat or fish, potatoes, rice, beans, asadero cheese, chile rajas, or chile relleno. Other types of ingredients may include barbacoa, mole, refried beans and cheese, and deshebrada (shredded slow-cooked flank steak). The deshebrada burrito also has a variation with chile colorado (mild to moderately hot) and salsa verde (very hot).

American burritos are typically bigger, the San Francisco Mission-style burritos (with meat, beans, rice, guacamole, and salsa) often gigantic.

The default burrito is a beef burrito (with chunks of steak, shredded beef, or chopped beef), but chicken and vegetarian versions are also common. Fish is possible. Turkey, pork, and lamb ought to be possible, but they seem to be very rare.

(I have to admit that I’ve found searching through the sites for American Mexican restaurants a frustrating exercise: so many of them are badly, jumpily designed, and they often lack crucial information, like what meat means in the description of an offering.)

The Taco Bell Thanksgiving event. The menu, with some crucial information:


This was a company-internal event, with an assortment of celebrities folded into the guest list, plus lots of tweeting and a press release that found its way into a great many publications, which tended to find the menu both mouth-watering and weird. Just about everybody remarked on the absence of turkey in the turkerito (there are no Moors in the turkerito either, but I suppose that’s no surprise).

The press material included only a few images, none of them with anything recognizable as a food in the burrito family in them. I did find an image of some tacos, but it wasn’t clear they were connected to the Irvine event, and anyway tacos aren’t burritos.

So for me turkeritos — the Mexification (or Mexicanization) of Thanksgiving — remain the stuff of culinary legend. I believe in sushirrito, I believe in turducken, but on turkeritos I am firmly agnostic.

One Response to “Two Thanksgiving meals”

  1. chrishansenhome Says:

    My Singaporean husband, or HWMBO as I refer to him, always laughs when he sees “Singapore Fried Noodles” or “Singapore Fried Rice” on a restaurant menu. He believes that the restaurants add curry powder to regular noodles or rice so they can call it “Singapore Fried…” and get higher prices for it. The Wikipedia article on Singaporean cuisine is quite comprehensive. Tonight HWMBO and I are going out with friends to the only roti prata speciality restaurant in London. It’s apt to be crowded by I love roti prata so I’m willing to queue.

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