Though it’s a prized turkey that Scrooge sends an urchin to buy at the end of A Christmas Carol, goose was the original centerpiece on the Cratchit’s menu. As shown to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Present: “There never was such a goose…Its tenderness and flavor, size and cheapness were the themes of universal admiration.” The modern day American family will sit down to a meal of turkey or ham or beef this Christmas, but goose remains the traditional Christmas meat of choice for many and was long before Dickens wrote of its succulence.
The goose has been perfectly created to make for the ideal Christmas feast. Geese are ready to be eaten twice a year. Once when they are young or “green” in the early summer and again when they are at their fattest and ripest toward the end of the year after having feasted on fallen corn. It also has the softest fat in its category of animal. The fat turns to liquid at 111 degrees Fahrenheit (compared
to duck fat, which liquefies at 126 degrees) making it easier to cook and its
fat easier to consume – try it on pancakes (we’re serious). They were thus used as the centerpiece at Michaelmas, a feast day celebrated during the Middle Ages, which fell on the winter solstice and honored the end of the harvest and the change in season. Earlier than that roast goose was an offering to Odin and Thor in thanks for the harvest. It was also ritually eaten in ancient Greek culture in order to insure the crops in the months to come. It was only natural for goose to become the roast of choice for the Christmas, which eventually took the place of other winter solstice festivities. For the American settlers, turkey took goose’s place because that’s what happened to be living on their new home
soil and it too followed the same pattern of maturation.
Here are some other fun facts about the majestic goose to chat about while you dine on its deliciously dark, rich meat:
scholar, Jules Cesar Scaliger, is quoted as saying that “geese lower their
heads in order to pass under a bridge, no matter how high its arches are.”
-Alexandre Dumas, the historical novelist and gastronomic storyteller, wrote that “they have so much foresight that when they pass over Mount Taurus, which abounds in eagles, each goose will take a stone in its beak. Knowing what chatterboxes they are, they ensure, by
thus constraining themselves, that they will not emit the sounds which would cause their enemies to discover them.”
-According to Dumas, a French chemist “saw a goose turning a spit on which a turkey was roasting. She was holding the end of the spit in her beak; and by sticking out and pulling back her neck, produced the same effect as the use of an arm. All she needed was to be given a drink from time to time.”
Have you ever dined on the glory of goose? What’s your preparation of choice? And have you ever seen a goose walk under an archway? We want to know if the stories are true!