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At the Golden Crown Panaderia in Albuquerque, New Mexico, traditional Thanksgiving turkey is for the birds. Instead of serving the usual US holiday poultry feast, this neighbourhood bakery sells bread loaves in the size and shape of an oven-roasted turkey.

A favourite among Tofurkey-shunning vegetarians -- and those who prefer their dinner rolls with a little more character -- the turkey loaves look almost exactly like the real thing. Sticklers for detail, father-son owners Pratt and Chris Morales sprinkle herbs and spices on the golden-brown loaf, and even substitute darker whole wheat flour for the “dark meat” wings and legs. Those who like a little extra heat with dinner can order the turkey bread made with New Mexico green chilli dough. Each loaf ranges from $35 to $45, depending on the type of dough used.

The Morales family has been baking up the turkey alternative since the late 1970s and makes hundreds each season. This year, they already have 245 loaves on order. While the turkey bread has been a best-seller, former accountant Pratt Morales has also moulded castles, cacti and famous faces out of the humble peasant dough, and hopes to one day open a bread sculpture museum.

Holiday revellers can round out their Thanksgiving meal with New Mexico’s buttery state cookie, the anise- and cinnamon-flavoured biscochitos, and a glass of cold-brew iced coffee served on tap, one of Chris Morales’ pet projects.  Once the Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone, order up a pizza baked on blue corn or green chile crust and topped with fresh vegetables grown in the bakery’s own hydroponic garden.

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