Once upon a time, the Christmas goose was the standard holiday entrée. Why not try it again?
Back in the olden days (or so the stories tell us), the Christmas goose was a common Yuletide dining tradition. Remember that song that goes, “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat”? Now you know why that mattered. That song was new back when hardly anyone in Europe had ever tasted turkey.
Nowadays the Christmas turkey is just about synonymous with Christmas dinner, as I pointed out in a recent article. But it wasn’t always that way….
God Bless Us Every One!
Back when the New World was still new and turkeys were the culinary equivalent of Rolexes, people ate what they could afford. When they could afford a little meat, they’d usually have a goose for Christmas dinner, because that goose was cheap. Otherwise, it was cold potatoes and porridge again.
Which is why working class people often belonged to Goose Clubs that let them put geese on a kind of layaway (often with a trusted pub owner) for months, until they’d paid off the cost of the big bird. Someone would then deliver it in time for Christmas dinner.
Goose has fallen far down the popularity ladder since being replaced by turkeys…which also replaced a popular Christmas dish among the wealthy, the boar’s head.
That’s right. The roasted head of a male pig, usually dressed with bay leaves and rosemary. And who wouldn’t enjoy having a decapitated hog glaring at them from the centerpiece of their Christmas table?
It is any real surprise that even rich people switched to turkeys ASAP?
Moving Right Along…
If you do decide to experiment with this particular Christmas holiday tradition, be sure to plan well in advance. Most grocery stores don’t carry geese the way they do hordes of frozen turkeys and hams, so you’ll probably have to find a specialty butcher or order your goose somewhere, possibly online.
Ironically, it’ll probably cost you way more than a turkey, but what’s money when you’re trying to get a Christmas tradition just right?
If you’re like most Americans, the only poultry you’ve experienced regularly is chicken and turkey, with maybe a little duck thrown in. Goose may taste a bit strong to you, since it’s all dark meat. Actually, some claim it has a rather fowl flavor. Ha ha! Ha.
Anyway, don’t expect it to taste like chicken, and do expect it to be much fattier than turkey. Some say it tastes like slightly livery duck, if that makes sense to your taste buds.
Even if it doesn’t, it can’t hurt to give it a try. At least you’ll know what the Cratchits went through every year as they ate their Christmas goose and tried to stay warm.