"I'll tell you something", he shouts, "it's never the turkey that sets on fire", he steps away from the firetruck with a huge cigar in his hand, "it's always the people who cook for the first time that year and have been using the oven to store things - books, shoes, newspapers... we see it all - let me tell you." He smiles a little, puffs his stubby cigar one more time and repeats in a thick American accent: "it ain't ever the turkey".
A fire on Thanksgiving might seem like a rare disaster but it's actually a very common thing, the holiday sees twice as many home fires than any other time in the year with hurried cooks scrambling to prepare their family feasts and, in at least some of the cases, as forgetting mentioned above, forgetting the oven actually being used as an extra shelf in the kitchen.
With Thanksgiving about to kick off across the States, we set off to meet the people of New York to hear some of their biggest #ThanksgivingFails - a sort of 'let us make the mistakes so you don't have to' guide to Thanksgiving. From the funny, to the stupid and sometimes dangerous things that seem to occur during the holiday, there's also some nice tips at the end to hopefully help you avoid making the same mistakes - but if you do, and we know some of you will, make sure to share them with us @FineDiningLover using ThanksgivingFails.
"Going back to 1977 I was doing a junior year abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, and for whatever reason from the 25,000 students, 500 of them were Americans and of course no one was going home so we decided to cook our own Thanksgiving dinner. So, none of us had ever done it before but we were able to organise this giant Turkey and it was a few days before Thanksgiving when someone said: “oh my god, that’s a huge Turkey - you’re going to have to thaw it before you cook it.”
"There were about seven of us and we didn’t know what to do so we filled up a bathtub in the dorm with hot, hot, hot water and we managed to take it down a lot so thankfully it was large enough to serve us all but the inside was still raw."
One time my mum cooked the Turkey and forget to take all the innards, that was pretty gross and we had to have peanut butter sandwiches with all the sides. Then one other time she tried to get really creative and make a Turdurkden but it was just not good, no one wanted it.
"When I was ten-years-old we were getting ready for Thanksgiving in the morning before the whole entire family was over. My dad was carrying a turkey across the way and he was joking around with me and my brother and my brother ran up and punched him - my dad dropped the turkey he had in his hands, it hit the corner of a plate of vegetables that my mum was chopping and they went all over her. We still ate it, we dusted off the turkey and Thanksgiving went on as usual."
So, it’s my first Thanksgiving in my own apartment trying to impress my family - I’m getting everything together, I think everything is good and the turkey came out horrible. My mother and grandmother just gave me this look and cussed me all the from Thanksgiving to Christmas - then at Christmas I was at my Grandmother’s house and the two of them was like “come here” so we went in the kitchen, worked out this whole turkey thing, both of them, like: “this is how you do this”, and everything worked out fine after that.
Sean Kavanagh-Dowsett and Nicky Perry
"It’s one of the two days of the year that we’re closed, so instead of going off to this fabulous Thanksgiving dinner to which we were invited, instead - because the restaurants was closes I spent the day elbow deep in the back of a refrigerator installing some lighting. We didn’t get to have Thanksgiving dinner at all and the next day we found out that at the dinner alongside a bunch of really good friends there was also a special guest of honour, Mr Michael Caine. We don’t usually regret things in life but that’s one thing we really do regret."
DO NOT, repeat, do not forget to take the giblets out of the inside of your turkey. Another common theme that came up was remembering the to remove the giblets but forgetting to take the paper and sometimes plastic pads found underneath the turkey.
Thaw or risk it raw - can't say it simpler than that - avoid Miriam's mistake and make sure you defrost your bird in plenty of time, if you have somehow forgotten, don't panic and dump your bird in a hot bath, try a cold water thaw which can reduce the time it takes to around 30 minutes per pound, according to FoodSafety.Gov.
DO - repeat - do follow this perfect guide for hosting the best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever - it even has a guide to butchering your bird for optimum cooking.
If, like many on during the holiday, you like to deep fry your Turkey, what is quite possibly the most dangerous of Thanksgiving traditions, make sure you follow this guideline from the U.S Fire Administration.