Thursday, 19 December 2013

An Homage to the Turkey (unedited) - South Shropshire Journal 13/12/13

Before I kick things off, I’d like to remind you that today is Friday 13th. So, just mind how you go. Okay? Good.

Right, health and safety out of the way I’m going to talk turkey, because it’s Christmas really soon and I write about food. It’s not original by any stretch, but obligatory. However, unlike a lot of people who write about food, I’m not going to give the turkey a hard time. If anything at this time of year they need a bit of sympathy because whilst the rest of us are having super jolly fun, maxing out our credit cards and snogging the intern from accounts at the works Christmas bash (really, you’ll both regret it tomorrow – don’t say I didn’t warn you), the poor old gobbler is not having such a great fist of it.

Not only do turkeys have to endure getting murdered in their hundreds of thousands right about now, they have the indignity of getting pilloried in the press for being dull, tasteless and flaccid too. Not fair. Not my turkey. So I’m going to put my tiny head and wrinkly warty old neck above the parapet and put it out there that I rather like turkey.

Once dead, it has many redeeming features not least its sheer size. What a splendid thing to sally forth to the table on the greatest feasting day of all. A roasted turkey just screams generosity and celebration. If you get a good one, cook it properly, then so much the better. Style and substance.

As I said last week, I’m in no position to tell you how to cook the damned thing, but I can certainly extol the sense in buying a good one. There are some jolly gobbly good turkey producers round here. Judy Goodman and her family over at Great Witley produce the best I’ve tasted (geese too, and the finest asparagus you can eat). Judy is also one of the most passionate, yet modest and grounded food producers I know. She’s a delight, and so are her birds. The Goodmans’ turkeys grow slowly, have plenty of room to move about, and are fed a good diet. They’ll cost you a few quid and rightly so, but all properly produced food should hurt your pocket a bit. But I’ve told you that before.

The sprout on the other hand, can do one. It’s fashionable to pretend that the sprout is an enjoyable part of the festive season. You can dress it up however you like, but the Brussels sprout will always taste like condensed flatulence. I’ll go without the sprout, and no doubt you’ll go with. A sense of stoic yuletide duty. Well done you. I’ll push them to one side and gobble up the turkey. 

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