Food and drink 

Happy turkey day, Whistler style…

Imagine: 700 plump, healthy turkeys, sans feathers, all wrapped in shiny plastic, waiting to be hefted in hand, considered and brought home to roost in a Whistler kitchen in time for Thanksgiving.

Say you feed an average of eight people a turkey, or at least you dish out eight nice servings - that's 5,600 turkey dinners being gobbled up this coming Thanksgiving weekend at Whistler alone. And those are just the turkeys rolling out of Nesters Market.

Then there are the ones from all the other grocery stores and likely even a few rolling up the highway, raw or cooked, stashed in the trunks of cars driven by weekenders and guests.

Granted, some quail and game hens, a goose, probably a pheasant or two and a few dozen hams will cross the cashier's scanner line and make it onto the table, but nothing comes close to the classic Thanksgiving turkey.

"It's definitely mostly turkeys," says James Thomas, who runs the meat department at Nesters. "And it's mostly a 50-50 split between Grade A and free-range turkeys. We might have 15 or 20 people buying organic ones.

"At Whistler, everybody goes for turkey at Christmas and Thanksgiving," he says  - including him and his family. More than one soul rushes in to grab one at the 11th hour before dinner - some even ask him to cook it.

And here I thought I might find people at Whistler branching out for Thanksgiving, going for something a little more creative, a little less traditional - a few oysters or lobsters here, a little lamb or deep-fried tofu there.

But, no. After calling around town this week - even making a point of calling people I thought might do something out of the ordinary, including a master restaurateur from Spain and a Japanese family whose chief cook is from Osaka, I can assure you that when it comes to Thanksgiving, James is right on the money - Whistlerites make theirs traditional, straight up, with family and friends at the forefront.

For instance, since the late '80s, Whistler's original marathon man, Murray Coates, has almost always had a gang of long-time friends over, including Chuck and Karen Blaylock, Dave Kirk and Jeanette Callahan, Mitch and Rita Sulkers, Kevin and Georgina Titus.

Traditionally, he hosted a classic turkey dinner at his place on Monday because the Victoria marathon is on Thanksgiving Sunday and Murray and his buddies would do it, then drive back to Whistler Sunday night for Thanksgiving dinner the next day. He doesn't do the marathon, now, but the tradition continues.

"I cook the turkey, Kevin brings pumpkin pie and ice cream, Mitch is famous for his salads, and Jeanette is famous for bringing some sort of veggie dish.

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