Attention, thoughtful Thanksgiving cooks! This year, don’t make your vegetarian guests endure a wan simulacrum of the big bird (yes, I’m looking at you, Tofurky®). Instead, serve them a true pièce de résistance: the veggieducken, a k a “vegetarian turducken.”
Photo via NPR Weekend Edition.
Turducken, you will recall, is chicken stuffed in duck stuffed in turkey. Veggieducken does not, paradoxically, contain ducken, or even tofu ducken. (Tofucken®?) Rather, it consists of a two-foot-long banana squash artistically stuffed with onions, leeks, sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, breadcrumbs, and herbs. Its alternate name – equally portmanteau-y, somewhat harder to pronounce, but more technically accurate – is squashleekotato roast. The dish was developed by Dan Pashman, host of The Sporkful blog and podcast. (Motto: “It’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters.”)
I’m of the “life’s too short to stuff a mushroom” school, so I’m not going to be making veggieducken this year, or any other year. (But if you want to make it, I’ll happily eat it.) I’m interested in veggieducken because of how the word was constructed. The fact that it references “turducken” is evidence of how far the latter word has come since it first appeared in print in 1982, courtesy of chef Paul Prudhomme. (Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blends company registered the Turducken trademark in 1986. Yes, we should be capitalizing the word.) Not only is turducken well accepted, if only as an aspiration or a joke*, but with the advent of veggieducken we see -ducken evolving into a bound morpheme. Linguists sometimes call bound morphemes cran-morphs, from the cran- in cranberry that now attaches itself to brand names like Cran-Apple. Other familiar cran-morphs include burger and -licious.
In short: The -ducken in veggieducken has nothing to do with duck + chicken; it now communicates the more general idea of “elaborately stuffed/nested food.”
Related Thanksgiving word lore:
And for readers far more motivated than I, a veggieducken video tutorial.
* There’s that problematic “turd” syllable, for starters.