How To Have Thanksgiving in Mongolia; Or, How a Bunch of Americans Used the Internet to Slaughter a Turkey

Warning: the following blog post contains pictures of a turkey ceasing to be alive. Just so you know.

Two important things happened this week: one, our Peace Corps friends from Khovd and the surrounding areas had off, thanks to the Mongolian school system, which meant there were a lot more Americans in Khovd than Khovd is accustomed to dealing with; and two, one volunteer discovered a local Kazakh guy who raises turkeys.


First things first, we need to procure the main course.

First problem: as a bunch of Americans from Suburbia, the closest any of us had ever gotten to livestock was the petting zoo, which is not exactly your one-stop shop for practical experience in animal slaughtering. So we googled the shit out of how to kill a turkey and assembled our weapons.
Scissors? Check. Big knife? Check. Small knife? Check. Stun gun? So checked.

Second problem: according to the internet, the recently deceased turkey should be put into a giant bucket of hot water to make plucking easier. Except my water chose right then to go off, which meant that turkey killing was delayed until such time as the water came back. And that us how I came to have a turkey bee-bopping around my shower for five hours.
As you can see, the turkey’s wings are duct-taped to its body; this was the guy who sold him to us, not us. And since we needed him to stay in the shower, we left it.

The water finally came back on at 9 pm, so we gathered our weapons and crowded in the door of the bathroom to watch three of the Peace Corps guys hold the turkey down, stun it, and then chop off its head.
(The above pictures stolen from a Peace Corps volunteer).
After the turkey appeared fairly well-drained, we cauterized its neck with a hot frying pan….
…and then started plucking.
At this point, our turkey was starting to look like something out of the supermarket, if the supermarket were a shower from the depths of hell that was covered in coagulated blood, guts, and feathers.
Then it was time for one brave person to stick their hand up its ass and pull out all the organs. I was not that person.
And here he is all bagged up and waiting to be cooked.
On Thursday, we started cooking. It was an all-day affair that involved not only turkey, but also mac and cheese, garlic mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing, horse meat sliders, and roasted vegetables.
My apartment is big, but it’s not big enough to cook Thanksgiving for nine people without half the labor taking place on the floor.
And then we ate and it was AMAZING to have that much food that wasn’t boiled goat.
I put myself in charge of dessert and, in homage to my Luso-American roots, I did aletria and an apple pie. Both of which turned out beautifully and were absolutely delicious.
Because Thanksgiving isn’t a thing in Germany–and I wasn’t friends with enough Americans to make a thing out of it–this was my first Thanksgiving in three years. I wasn’t expecting to have one this year, nor was I expecting to butcher the main course in my shower, but if there is anything I have learned from the last two months, it’s that Khovd is blowing my expectations out of the water.

So to conclude:

Dear turkey,
Sorry we chopped your head off, but thanks for the most memorable Thanksgiving of my life.

The End.


2 thoughts on “How To Have Thanksgiving in Mongolia; Or, How a Bunch of Americans Used the Internet to Slaughter a Turkey

  1. That is so completely awesome!!!Maybe I can convince Kara to let me butcher a turkey in her bathroom for the thanksgiving dinner she’s organising?

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