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The truth behind turducken, Corey Mintz now cooking for monkeys, the suffering of Roncesvalles

Get stuffed: turducken weighs in at a hefty 900 calories per slice (Adam Selwood)

Get stuffed: turducken weighs in at a hefty 900 calories per slice (Adam Selwood)

• With the charm of a bloated pit bull and packing a painful 900 calories a slice, turducken might be a “guaranteed show stopper,” but how much do we know about this beast of a roast? Though some say that the chicken-in-a-duck-in-a-turkey is distinctly American, created by either Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme or Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana, the roots of the roast go well back into culinary history.  The evolution of meat stuffed with meat, however, reached a likely unbeatable pinnacle in 19th-century France with “rôti sans pareil,” which consisted of 17 stuffed birds ranging from a bustard to a tiny garden warbler. [L.A. Times]

• The Star’s Corey Mintz normally prepares meals for a more civilized audience than Lexy and Mickey, who took turns this week spitting out Mintz’s salmon nigiri and suspiciously circling the marshmallows, peanuts and kiwi fruit. But Mintz was quick to forgive their poor table manners, as Lexy is a Japanese macaque and Mickey a South American black-tufted marmoset. The monkeys are residents of Port Perry’s Story Brook Book Farm, a sanctuary for abandoned and rescued animals like Lexy and Mickey, who were likely originally bred as “pets, lab animals and performers,” but have landed at Story Brook in need of a better home. [Toronto Star]

• Those of us “too busy and inept” to pop even a tray of Pillsbury gingerbread men into the oven this Christmas have a world of ways to cover up our lack of baking prowess. The Globe’s guide to culinary fakery includes such tips as adding colourful icing to the tops of store-bought brownies. How about cookies? Scrape the bottoms off with a knife, then brown them in a frying pan. Pie? Chip away at the edges of the crust so it looks less machine-made.  [Globe and Mail]

• A Darwinian exercise for local businesses is under way on Roncesvalles Avenue: construction to replace sewer mains and streetcar tracks is driving away shoppers and shuttering long-time businesses. The strip’s Second Cup, Boho and Cosa Pizza are now gone. Sales in some retail stores are down by 30 per cent, and walk-in trade has been hit as hard as 80 per cent. With the road closed to southbound traffic, no streetcar service, and parking blocked by construction, even determined shoppers headed to Shala-Mar or A Good Read would have a hard time getting there. [BlogTO]

• For charitable Being Erica fans, Erin Karpluk has designed a “grandiose homestead” made of gingerbread that’s being auctioned for the SPCA. Dotted with doors (representing “Erica’s many ins and outs”), covered in frosted pretzels (maybe representing her love of pretzels, though we’re not sure) and featuring cut-outs of Karpluk and co-star Michael Riley, this house is a bit too sugar coated for us.  We much prefer Strombo’s gingerbread “flop house” being auctioned for Swerve Canada. [Torontoist]