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Thanks with turkey! Where lays the deep relationship?

By Charles Hopkins Published 10/14/2006 | Social Issues

Thanksgiving, without the turkey, cannot be thought of as Thanksgiving dinner. But thanks with turkey?  Do you really see any tie between them? How did these two come to be related, where one is the essence of human relations, and the other is a part of human diet? The juxtaposition of essence and existence has a long tale, and this is how turkey became the most important cuisine for Thanksgiving Day.

From the feast of the Plymouth episode

Were turkeys included in the first ever dinner served on the occasion of Thanksgiving Day? Looking at history, we find we cannot find a clear indication that turkey was primary in the feast of the autumn harvest celebration.

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists. along with the native Indians from Wampanoag, relished the festive mood and enjoyed delicious preparations of duck, goose, lobster, seal and cod. Turkey was included, or not.  Even the historians are not totally clear about the menu.

The first feast had two items that were constant. The historians have enough evidence to prove that wild rooster and deer meat were definitely among the items in the festive feast. How did the turkey get in? Geese and turkey - what is their similarity?

Know the turkey in detail

The Tom and the Hen: The turkey couple is popularly known by these names. The turkeys are densely feathered birds, mainly in a brownish shade. The female turkey is smaller in size, while the male is fleshier. A cavity can be made in the neck portion for herb stuffing - this is yummy!

There is historical importance to these birds. The Mexicans found this bird to be highly rich in food value and easily available and started taming it. It was sometime around the sixteenth century that the Europeans also came to know its importance and adapted it as an item in their diet. Notice the time frame when all this was happening. Is this merely a coincidence?

Lets not dig into that detail, rather, lets shift our interest to why the turkey gained popularity? One big reason seems to be that they were found very easily and could be hunted without any trouble. The turkeys were found in plenty compared to the goose. The food value of these two birds was more or less the same. The turkeys got in. Today, it has become the main mouthwatering item on Thanksgiving Day.

The popularity factor in the history

It was the harvest season in England and Queen Elizabeth was cherishing the festive mood. This was the sixteenth century. Unfortunately, the queen got a shock because there was news of attack on England. But very soon she was relieved when the information surfaced that the Spanish ship had sunk on its way.

The harvest festival and the victory doubled the spirit of the grand feast, and the queen ordered more roasted goose for the celebration. Some historians find this to be the very incident when goose meat became popular. When the same event took place in America, the less available goose made space for turkey to become a part of the grand dinner at harvest time.

Today, the deep-rooted association of Thanksgiving Day and turkey is cherished by all and has taken the shape of a symbol to mark the importance of the festive hour. This is how existence and essence were tied together.