Monday 8 April 2013

G is for Goose ...

In 1588 Queen Elizabeth I ordered all Englishmen to eat goose for their Christmas dinner, as that was what she had been tucking into when she learned that the Spanish Armada had been beaten – the order was given!

Farm Goose with
erect posture with
firm rear end

The rich would have had swan ... those not in the swan-eating class had goose or chicken ...

Dispute Between Goose, Sheep and Horse – date about 1300:

“No quoth the goose ...
Nor how could Arrows, profit and alight,
To meet our enemies an grive their visage,
And from their Armies, save us from Damage ?
Flight of My Feathers ! despite Sheep I tro,
Us shall defend, against our mortal foe.”

Bayeaux Tapestry: a flight of arrows

The long bow, pride of the English army, was dependent upon its “feathering” of goose quills, and its “notches” (end-pieces, where the cords were attached) of sheep horn.  Flight of the English arrows was said to resemble a snow storm. 

Goose Quills

The English goose has always been a festive bird (turkeys were much later).  Traditionally the goose is stuffed with sage-and-onion stuffing.

Roast goose ... cold roast goose is quite as good as hot and should be accompanied by a fresh watercress salad.


It is not accident, but design, that the harvest brings abundance ... goose roast with rabbit (fattened on the corn), roast goose-and-rabbit pudding, sage and onion stuffing, apple sauce and dumplings ...
Eliza Acton's Rabbit in form
of Goose for roasting

... til though give the Ploughman in harvest his goose ...  a perk-time essential for the men in the fields who had gathered in the Harvest ...

The Goose to use all parts of the bird ... the feathers, the quills – then roast the bird with seasonal accoutrements ... waste not want not ...

That is G for Goose from Aspects of British Cookery

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Empty Nest Insider said...

Interesting how Queen Elizabeth announced to all of the Englishmen, "Let them eat goose!" Wonderful poem! I never realised that a farm goose was known for its "erect posture and firm rear end." You really cover all of the bases Hilary!


Empty Nest Insider said...

oops, I meant realized.

Old Kitty said...

Awwww am such a feeble vegetarian - I couldn't stand the thought of geese and swans as dinner! LOL!!! But I never knew there was a royal proclamation to eat geese! LOL!! Take care

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Interesting! I remember the old nursery song: "Christmas is coming...the goose is getting fat..." It always struck me as odd as a child, since we don't eat goose for Christmas here. :) (Here in the South, it's more of a ham thing.)

Unknown said...

The flight of arrows resembling a snowstorm gives a wonderful picture. I've never had goose but I have an idea it might be tastier than swan which surely is a little "muddy".

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I have never had goose. I wonder how similar to turkey that is tastes?

Jo said...

No similarity to turkey at all. I used to roast goose for Christmas Eve. Turkey for Christmas Day and Pork for Boxing Day. In this part of Canada the cost of goose is prohibitive. I did eat Canada Goose once, that was pretty good.

I never knew Elizabeth I ordered the populace to eat goose though, I would have been happy to oblige. Never eaten swan, have you Hilary?


T. Powell Coltrin said...

I've been chased by geese but have never ate one. :) Would love to.

Laura Eno said...

I keep forgetting that royalty used to decree such oddities and everyone would obey. Such a different world it used to be!

The goose has so many uses, with its feathers and fat put to other uses. I should study more on that as I've always been interested in medieval times.

JoJo said...

My fiance' has been an avid hunter since he was a kid and loves game meat. He accidentally shot a swan once and b/c his father was 'you shot it, you eat it, we do not waste meat', he cooked it and said it was really good. I, however, am not so adventurous.

Vallypee said...

I am fascinated as to why Elizabeth 1 made that dictate! How odd! Another fascinating piece of history from you, Hilary. Love it.

cleemckenzie said...

The queen must have been in a super celebratory mood indeed. Poor geese had a rough period there. I've roasted goose before and they're greasy little buggers. As to swan . . .I'd have to think about taking on that challenge.

I'm really enjoying these snippets of history, Hilary.

Rosalind Adam said...

Fancy being ordered to eat goose. I've never had goose. I wonder if there were vegetarians in Elizabethan times.

Julie Flanders said...

A few days ago Clancy and I were hissed at and threatened by an angry goose in spite of the fact that we had kept our distance and weren't bothering him. If I'd read this before that encounter I could have told him he is lucky he didn't live in Queen Elizabeth I's England! :D

Interesting as always, Hilary.

Inger said...

At least they used every part of the bird in the olden days. This was informative, as always.

Sherry Ellis said...

My father is a hunter, and he's killed many geese. I tried eating one, and found it to be rather gamey. I prefer chicken.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

At least they used every bit of it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Julie .. there were some fun snippets - and imagine adhering to the proclamation "Let them eat goose!" ... I found the poem in one of Mum's cookery books .. but the Wiki picture of the farm goose - looks good and solid doesn't it.

I had roast goose for Easter Saturday too ... delicious it was!

You spelt realised right - as far as (the Britisher!) is concerned!

@ Old Kitty - sorry about the lack of vegetarian foods - in those days I guess they couldn't afford to be fussy. My roast goose was delicious .. thanks to my friends!

@ Elizabeth - I couldn't find the origins for the nursery rhyme/carol apparently ..

We don't eat goose either - it wouldn't feed enough people .. but interesting your Christmas food is a 'ham' .. I didn't know that - but you've had turkey for thanksgiving haven't you ...

@ Susan - thanks about the flight of arrows and a snowstorm - it is a good description isn't it. I've no idea what swan tastes like - but it's not offered in shops - I'll try and find out. I had goose the other day and it was delicious!

@ Keith - the goose I had recently was more tender, and tastier .. I think. They feed many fewer people ... so buy a turkey if you're feeding the hungry hoards!

@ Jo - that's a lot of roasting and a lot of meat to eat.

I haven't tried swan and I'm not sure it's available .. I'll try and find out sometime though ..

@ Teresa - geese and swans chase people .. very hard 'pecks' they've got too - unpleasant to experience one!

@ Laura - the royal medieval world was a different place, you're so right.

Great use of "waste not want not" .. I couldn't find a horn notch photo/image to add in to the blog post ...

@ JoJo - Americans and Canadians love their meat don't they ... ok interesting your fiance enjoyed his swan. I'd love to try ..

@ Val - probably as a 'present' of a rich supply of meat .. the peasants probably would never have tried it ... one of those strange but true stories.

@ Lee - Well the geese have recovered, and the swans fill our rivers and wetlands ...

... once the fat is taken off .. the meat is delicious .. and the fat makes excellent roasting grease!

Thanks Lee .. delighted you're enjoying the posts ..

@ Ros - well those were the days weren't they - I don't comply often .. so not sure what I would have done - conform to live I guess!!

I'll try and find that out about vegetarians ... there must be because the simplers and samplers tried and tested so many things - they were pretty astute re diet even back then.

@ Julie - oh yes that's a good one - talk to the geese you your walk!! Clancy will be really chuffed to find out that you're talking to the animals ..

I guess Queen Elizabeth I England wasn't a good place for a goose - may be that's why he settled in the States!!

@ Inger - people were very thrifty back then weren't they ...

@ Sherry - I love chicken too .. but I love all meat on occasions - but eat a lot of vegetarian dishes at home and some fish ..

@ Alex - they didn't waste anything - if there was value in it ..

Cheers to you all - happy rest of the week ... Hilary

Mark Means said...

Very interesting...especially the part about the Queen ordering the people to eat certain things.

I've never had the chance to try goose, but I'll bet it tastes great.

Diane said...

Interesting post. I love goose but they are very expensive here. Perhaps we should fence an area of a raise a few goslings for the end of the year :-)
Have a good week, Diane

Chatty Crone said...

I must be dumb - I didn't think people ate that kind of stuff! lol sandie

Julie Jordan Scott said...

I can't imagine people eating Swan! I suppose it is quite a delicacy but oh... just no no no in my book!

So much great information again - I'm so glad to visit you!

Happy A to Z-ing!
Julie Jordan Scott
Our Literary Grannies from A to Z:G is for Gail Hamilton
tweet me - @juliejordanscot

orneryswife said...

I have never had goose but heard it is quite greasy. I have always thought they were too pretty to eat. :)

Happy G day!


Janie Junebug said...

I've never eaten goose. I guess Her Majesty wouldn't have been pleased with me.


A Lady's Life said...

This is the first time anyone ever mentioned eating swan. I never heard of it and wondered why?

Nick Wilford said...

I can't remember ever eating goose. What a versatile animal it seems to have been.

Golden Eagle said...

Imagine giving an order for everyone to eat the same thing. That would be difficult these days!

Fascinating images.

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

Ah yes, a goose. And I'm going to avoid any innuendoes. What I didn't realise was that the rich were more likely to eat swan. I don't think they could get away with that now.

You always add an interesting dimension, Hilary. And thank you for this 'fowl' posting.

Happy alphabeting.


Anonymous said...

I'm always quoting "waste not, want not," and now after reading this wonderful post, I'll always associate this with THE Goose!!

((( ))) from me and Jen!!

Tina said...

I've never had goose, though with my addiction to Food Network (do you get that in the UK??) I KNOW how to cook a goose. They're just not readily available, even at Christmas time.

Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

MunirGhiasuddin said...

The Goose you have here in the post is different from the Geese that fly over our home every morning and sometimes take a break on the lawn in the back. The Geese that visit us are from Canada.

The word "Cookery " brings back memories. Here in America they just call it cooking class, or if they want to make it fancy they call it cuisine.

Sue said...

Is it possible to have a plague of geese? A few years ago someone dumped a pair down at a local park which has a large dam with an island in the middle. Over the years they've bred and other people have added ducks and more geese. We're positively over run with them now and I'm waiting for people to start catching and cooking them!

~Sia McKye~ said...

I had forgotten all about that incident with Queen E the 1st. I much prefer goose to duck and for sure more than turkey. Love sage and onion stuffing.

enjoyed the article, Hilary!

Chuck said...

I have never had goose...I heard it tastes like chicken :) A little humor there. As always Hilary you make me hungry!

loverofwords said...

I have cooked goose before but found it too greasy. But, I think that it was an advantage in times past for soap making from all that fat. I enjoy your writing.

Unknown said...

Fascinating. I've never eaten goose before but it sounds good with sage and onions and apple sauce and dumplings.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mark .. having had goose over Easter - it is delicious! The Queen edict is just one of those funnies ..

@ Diane - gosh if you raise goslings please let me know and I'll be over later in the year! Sounds a good idea though .. if you're allowed - always that caveat in today's age.

@ Sandie - back a few centuries or more .. the peoples ate what they could catch ..

@ Julie - it's interesting to find out how people survived and the foods they ate in the Medieval ages ..

@ Ornery's Wife - it was delicious when I had roast goose over Easter!!

@ Janie - well 500 years ago .. no you would have been thrown into the Tower!

@ A Lady's Life .. all birds and fowl that could be caught were cooked - a necessity to survive ..

@ Nick - we used to be so thrifty .. with our resources ...

@ GE - yes I don't think it would be remotely possible .. but then the proclamation was given ...

@ Gary - I find English history fascinating .. as there is always something new for us to learn about .. that just hadn't occurred to me ..

I guess they ate what birds they could catch the easiest and fed the most people ... at least at the Court and noble levels. Glad you enjoyed the 'fowl'!

@ Ann - lovely to see you .. that phrase still applies and we really need to get back and use it properly .. the Goose: now I'll remember your comment!

@ Tina - do you watch the Food Network .. I occasionally watch a food programme - but not regularly. Funny that they're not available in the States or Canada apparently ..

@ Munir - there's lots of varieties .. your Canada geese end up in England when the Arctic is freezing.

I wanted to use 'cookery' so I didn't confine myself to recipes .. but I needed a "C" .. for my ABCs .. hence Cookery ...

@ Sue - yes .. an influx - ah yes a GAGGLE of geese!! I expect the powers that be will need to do something ... otherwise a plague they will be. I wonder what will happen ..

@ Sia - I think I prefer goose over duck, but then I'd have too many left overs! Duck is delicious and I love it ... Turkey is good too - but way too much of it - for one!

@ Chuck - it's gamier than chicken - chicken is pretty bland, unless you can get a good free range one. Sorry about the food element!

@ A Lover of Words - well at least you've tried eating goose .. I've never heard of them making soap from goose fat - but I've never investigated soap making.

Appreciate the comment re my writing!

@ Clarissa - it is delicious, especially with all the accoutrements ...

From what I can gather when you get home to Canada - goose (to buy!) is hard to find ..

Thanks to you all for visiting .. see you soon on your blogs - Hilary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Your posts are always so interesting and fun to read, Hilary. Wish I'd had a teacher like you growing up.

Sara said...

While I enjoyed all this post and learning about how a goose if fully used, the picture of Eliza Acton's rabbit in the form of a goose for roasting is wild.

G is for goose and for good stories told by H...Hilary:~)

Patricia Stoltey said...

We have wild Canadian geese everywhere in Northern Colorado but they've become pests. As migrating birds (even though ours stay put instead of wandering about the country), they are a federally protected species. We're not allowed to shoot one and serve it up for a holiday dinner.

Lisa said...

And just a side note, the first time my husband (to-be at the time)introduced me to Fois Gras, goose liver, I turned my noise up at it because I don't like liver. Well, I'd never had goose liver had I? Needless to say, he regrets that he convinced me to try it! He's had to share it with me the last thirty odd years! My son would love to learn how to make arrows...

Deniz Bevan said...

I've tried goose - I think I remember liking it. Never had swan, though!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joylene - many thanks .. I wish I'd been 'this clever' when I was growing up!

@ Sara - I couldn't resist putting in that photo of Eliza Acton's rabbit-goose .. it amused me too .. and am glad you commented on it ..

@ Patricia .. they're a different sort ... and the habits of migrating birds are changing as the climate changes ... sadly people over abuse, then the laws come in and it goes the other way ..

@ Lisa - Foie Gras is delicious I agree .. but is rather looked down on now - as the methods of its preparation aren't considered good welfare - quite right too ...

I'll try and email you a site re arrows .. now I can't remember it!

@ Deniz .. it is delicious isn't it .. and I've never had Swan - whether they serve it or not, I don't know ..

Thanks so much - lovely to read your comments .. cheers Hilary