Thanksgiving, in addition to being America's most popular genocide-commemorating holiday, has the distinction of being the only day of the year when most of us have the the opportunity to utter the word "giblet" with impunity. Say it aloud. Giblet. It's a weird word, a weirder thing to put in your mouth and chew until you can swallow, and probably the worst prison nickname possible. Let's explore it.
I was thinking about giblets today as I wrote out my last minute Thanksgiving grocery list. My family's in the Midwest, and Thanksgiving week in northern Wisconsin is completely dominated by deer hunting season, anyway, so for the last several years, I haven't returned home. We're more of Christmas people, because at least during Christmas week, there's not the slight concern that your parents' dog might get shot to put a damper on things. So rather than sitting in my apartment in my inside pants watching football and eating, I'm making food, putting on some regular pants, and walking downstairs to have friendsgiving with our neighbors. Hence, reading the word "giblets" dozens of times.
"What sort of person would have the nickname 'Giblet?'" my brother (who is a lawyer and was not on drugs) asked me today over the phone. "Would you go see a band called The Giblets? Or the Gib-lettes?"
I'd go see The Giblets, provided they were a Thanksgiving-themed punk band that was only playing one show, I responded. I'd imagine they're like Gwar. The question of what sort of person would earn the nickname "Giblet" is more complicated, though. "Giblet" would have to be an ineffectual but annoying person. Someone with violent aspirations comically beyond their strength and ability. Someone deliciously weird.
I've never eaten giblets —or if you want to be crude, cooked bird guts (which is what giblets are, when you get down to it). I've had hundreds of opportunities, though; we always had chickens when I was a kid, and my dad and uncles were always avid bird hunters. But after watching my father butcher our chickens and clean geese and ducks and wild turkeys, and seeing the insides come out of a recently deceased bird, I've never felt compelled to put giblets into my face and go "Mmmm," even though everyone I know who is brave enough to eat them finds them delicious. My coworker Jenna is a fan of turkey gizzards and chicken hearts and describes them as "chewy little bits of pure muscle." Editor Jessica loves the taste of giblets, but doesn't like to think of the word "giblet." My brother, a seasoned eater of strange foods, claims that applying the term "giblet" to all of the different bird organs is unfair, as some giblets are much superior to others. Hearts, he said, are a totally different food than livers. Livers are to the taste of meet as mackerel is to the taste of fish. A giblet sommelier, that one.
And then there's the sound of the word — giblet. Like a combination of "Jiggler" and "riblet," the word conjures of gelatinous organic material. Arm fat. Steak gristle. The skin lump on the back of big bald guys' necks. But you can't just give a nickname to a person's bulging armpits.
About 10 minutes ago, I called my brother back. He was in his car, probably doing lawyer things with stacks of paper. Maybe he was filing his ties in color coded hanging folders he just picked up on sale from Office Max, which is where lawyers go for Maximum Office. "I've figured out who Giblet should be," I said.
And then I told him the story of Gilberto Valle, the New York City cop with aspirations to cook and eat women. According to today's Post, Valle's planned cannibal meal was slated to take place tomorrow — Thanksgiving day. I told my brother Valle's plan, summed by this part of the Post article that quotes an internet chat Valle had with an alleged co-cannibal back in February,
Valle: I'm planning on getting some girl meat.
Alleged co-conspirator: Really? Tell me more.
Valle: This November, for Thanksgiving. It's a long way off, but I'm getting the plan in motion now. She's not a volunteer. She has to be abducted. I know where she lives. I will grab her from her house.
Valle should know better than try to throw a wrench in the most staunchly traditional holiday dining fare. Can you imagine showing up at someone's house expecting a Thanksgiving turkey (or Tofurkey, hippies) and instead being served roasted woman? Does he even know how to make brine strong enough for a man, but pH balanced for lady meat? And chicken stock is no substitute for human stock, if you're making stuffing. Valle's arrest not only probably saved a woman's life, but it averted a terrible culinary disaster.
"Oh, that guy is for sure Giblet," my brother said. His name even kind of looks like "Giblet."
I'm thankful for a lot this Thanksgiving, but all I want for Christmas is for someone in Gilberto Valle's future prison to read this, agree with me and make the "Giblet" nickname happen for the cannibal cop in prison.
That way we can celebrate Giblet Day all year.
Image via eAlisa/Shutterstock.