Lucy Lloyd, Lady Llinguist, and Wild-haired Wilhelm—A Letter from the Managing Editor SpecGram Vol CLIV, No 3 Contents From the Department of Cheap Research: How to Have a Flashing-Zapping Machine—Woody Ellen

Letter to the Editor

Dear SpecGram,

I’ve just finished reading Bjorn-Bob Weaselflinger’s excellent UXn article. I agree entirely with his premise and conclusions, but have to take slight exception with his meta-dumpling example (which in no way detracts from his main point).

My grandmother was a master chef and my grandfather both a successful poultry farmer and an avid hunter. In 1922, on the occasion of their 10th wedding anniversary, my mother attempted to recreate the famous Rôti Sans Pareil (“roast without equal”) of an early 19th century French royal feast. It consisted of seventeen nested birds: a bustard, a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an Ortolan Bunting, and a Garden Warbler, the last stuffed with a single olive. By all accounts, her recreation was a success, and my grandfather declared it the greatest meal of his life.

Unsurprisingly, the extravagance of the Rôti Sans Pareil put a strain on my grandparents’ food budget, and Cajuns are not ones to waste food (when we slaughter a pig, we don’t lose anything but the squeal). They ate leftovers for quite some time. My grandfather claimed until his dying day that he loved every bit of those leftovers, but my grandmother was appalled at how long the embedded carcasses ended up sitting around. After 9 or 11 days (family accounts differ), she sliced up the leftovers vertically, and layered them horizontally into a casserole. My grandfather sung its praises nearly as much as the original Rôti.

Because of my grandfather’s evident delight with the Rôti and the derivative casserole, my grandmother made a traditional Cajun turducken for him every weekmade from a small young chicken from the poultry farm, and wild ducks and turkeys my grandfather would hunt. Leftovers she would fold into a weekly leftover casserole. Leftovers from the casserole were injected into sausage casing for use as part of the usual sausage stuffing of the next turducken. My grandmother claimed the chain was unbroken, week to week, until her death in 1967. At that time, my mother took over the weekly cycle of preparing my grandfather’s meals, and by the time of my grandfather’s death in 1978, my father was hooked on the meals as well. My mother still prepares a weekly turducken made with leftover casserole sausage stuffing, and a weekly leftover casserole made with turducken remains. My youngest sister helps her prepare these two centerpiece meals of the week, and vows to carry on the cycle, unbroken, well into the 21st century.

Family lore states that the first turducken included the leftover casserole from the Rôti, though my grandmother could not remember if that was true or not when I began asking her about it in my teens. But she was sure, and my mother and sister are sure, that the cycle has been unbroken since the first turducken, which dates to about two weeks after their anniversary, in March of 1922.

Now that I have joined the prestigious Center for Computational Cajun and Creole Culinarity in Maurice, Louisiana (home of the commercial turducken so popular at Thanksgiving in the US), I have access to advanced computational simulations and a range of multi-disciplinary experts. Our conclusions are clear. At the 86th anniversary of the first turducken, in March of 2008, there have been 4,487 weekly turduckens and casseroles made in my family’s kitchens, representing five layers per week (four from the turduckenturkey, duck, chicken, and sausage casingand one from the casserole), for 22,435 layers. Careful analysis, including detailed modeling of the Nearly Catastrophic Thanksgiving, when Hungry Uncle Hank almost ate the last slice of the turducken, has led to the conclusion that that there are at least 6.0221415 x 1022 molecules (one tenth of a mole) of the original Turducken. If, as family lore states, the original Rôti Sans Pareil started the chain, then there were an additional twenty layers (casserole, sausage casing, seventeen birds, and the olive), and on the order of several sextillions (1018) of molecules from the original olive in the fabulous meal I enjoyed on that special anniversary.

This is the error that most scientists make when they consider infinitely-nested embeddings: that the embeddings must grow larger as the recursion continues (though, in Dr. Weaselflinger’s defense, that does seem true with language). Nothing could be farther from

Original Olive Distribution in a Contemporary Turducken: olive components are represented in light purple, which is also the theoretical color of the actual pieces at this time.
the truth in the general case, of course. Our analysis shows that these original olive particles are embedded in a stunning fractal pattern throughout the sausage stuffing of the contemporary turduckens. Even given another 1,000 years of turduckens and casseroles, these special olive molecules will still be present in statistically significant numbers!

Sorry to run on at length, but “meta-dumplings,” as Dr. Weaselflinger calls them, are my life’s work! The contemporary turduckens are, for all intents, infinitely-nested, fractally-distributed, meta-dumplings, contrary to Dr. Weaselflinger’s statements. You should come visit and join me and the Mrs. for dinner some time!

Clark E. Clarke, Ph.D.
Center for Computational Cajun and Creole Culinarity
Maurice, Louisiana


Dear Dr. Clark(e),

Fascinating. However, we will have to take a pass on your invitation to dinner. [shudder]


Lucy Lloyd, Lady Llinguist, and Wild-haired Wilhelm—A Letter from the Managing Editor
From the Department of Cheap Research: How to Have a Flashing-Zapping Machine—Woody Ellen
SpecGram Vol CLIV, No 3 Contents