Brian Ricca: Turkey carving in the pandemic

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Brian G. Ricca, who is superintendent of schools in St. Johnsbury.

I’m 46 years old, and for the past 45 years, someone else has carved the turkey. For my first 18 years, it was my dad, as we all celebrated either at the home I grew up in or at my Nana’s house. Come to think of it, he carved it through college, and in my first years as a volunteer teacher. For the last 20, I’ve spent Thanksgiving with my in-laws, and again, I didn’t have to carve. Even for our Friendsgiving that we typically host, one of my dear friends carves the turkey for us. Usually, for that feast, we have a bird that is north of 35 pounds. It’s a sight to see.

But this year, as you all know, was different. No Friendsgiving. No dinner with my in-laws. It was a Thanksgiving at our table, where we have every dinner together. Just the four of us and a 16-pound turkey that had been cooking since 10:15 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. So as I pulled the bird from the oven to let sit for 30 minutes, I did what everyone else does when they don’t know how to do something: I googled it!

My wife and I sat together and watched a one-minute video on how to carve a turkey. Here’s what you do: 

1. Start with the legs — remove them entirely. 
2. Then slice the breast meat along the rib cage. 
3. Finally, remove the wings completely. 

Once we followed these steps, we sliced the larger portions into manageable pieces for everyone’s plate. And it was done. I had carved a turkey. 

I know it’s not rocket science for some, and yes, I’ve been privileged to be at a table for the first 45 years of my life where someone else has done it. So it was new learning for me. 

Sometimes new learning is scary. I felt a little bit of pressure — cooking a turkey, and knowing I would have to carve it myself, having never done it before. I’m not always good at asking for help, nor do I always like venturing into new territories with a fair amount of risk. 

Part of the responsibility of learning something new is passing it on to others, to share your gift of knowledge. I’m no expert, and truth be told, when we have our next Friendsgiving, I’m still going to rely on my dear friend Scott Hill to carve that massive bird. It’s a tradition and something to look forward to. 

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But for now, I’ve done it once, and I’d be happy to be a wingman for anyone trying it for the first time. 

I know how to carve a turkey. 


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