Exotic ‘Eemew’ Thanksgiving Fare

The spirit of Thanksgiving comes from the desire to share with your neighbors and give thanks for a bountiful harvest. For most, it is a time of opulence and camaraderie. But for one animal in particular, it is a time of rendering as we gobble that which gobbles.

But do all cultures enjoy turkey as a main course for Thanksgiving? A simple misunderstanding kept me laughing for days.

A veterinarian friend of mine called me one day to discuss a perplexing medical case as well as chit chat about life. As our conversation slowly came to an end, I asked about her plans for the upcoming holiday.

“Dr. Yuen, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?” I inquired.

“I usually go over to a friend’s house for dinner. This year the family that I’m visiting is planning something special,” she replied.

“Really … are they making a Turducken, you know, chicken stuffed into a duck then stuffed into a turkey? No, wait, don’t tell me … are they deep-frying a turkey? I hear that’s all the rage on the Mainland. If they do, tell them be careful and don’t burn down the house while dropping the turkey into three gallons of hot peanut oil …” I rambled on.

At this point I think Dr. Yuen was getting tired of my guessing. “No, actually they’re going to Kamehameha Schools to get the main course for the night,” she interjected.

“Kamehameha Schools?” I asked.

“Yes, I guess they have a huge ‘eemew’ that everyone says is just awesome.”

At this point I pondered what Dr. Yuen had just told me. Since she’s originally from Canada, I thought something may be amiss with her pronunciation. To clarify her statement, I carefully repeated what she had said.

“Did you say Kamehameha School has a huge ’emu’ for Thanksgiving?”

“Yup, I guess they have it every year. You’re from Hawaii, haven’t you heard about it?” she asked.

“Actually, I never have,” I replied. “In fact I didn’t even know you could eat an emu. I mean, I guess it would be like an extra-large turkey … or maybe more like ostrich.”

Suddenly there was silence on the phone. Then Dr. Yuen laughed and said, “Not emu like the flightless bird, but you know … imu, the hot rocks in a big pit. We drop off our turkey the day before Thanksgiving and it goes into the imu with hundreds of other turkeys or hams or whatever you want to roast.”

I chuckled out loud and calmly assured Dr. Yuen that I was only joking. I knew what she meant. Of course, you don’t eat an emu for Thanksgiving. How silly. Or is it? I’m sure there are a lot of turkeys out their gobbling over the thought of replacing their lofty status as the premier dish on Thanksgiving with a bigger, juicier cousin. An emu in an imu now there’s an interesting idea.

Have a happy holiday season from the wild side.