Don't panic! It's only Christmas dinner
PUBLISHED: 00:16 15 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:26 20 February 2013
Christmas dinner is just a glorified Sunday roast, but it can send even the best cooks into a spin, as Sue Campbell reports
Making the perfect Christmas dinner shouldnt be that difficult. Often its more about who is watching you prepare Christmas dinner than how its done that can throw a cook into a panic. Having the mother-in-law or great aunt oversee the gravy can upset the simplest plans.
Generally our Christmas dinners are uncomplicated affairs think Sunday joint and add a few extras compared with some of our forebears.
In 1213 King John ordered about 3,000 capons, 1,000 salted eels, 400 hogs, 100 pounds of almonds and 24 casks of wine for his Christmas feast. Now that sounds like a proper blow out
The evolution of the main course into turkey did not take place for centuries. In Medieval England, the main course was either a peacock or a boar, with the boar usually the mainstay. There was a lot of wild boar about of course, but now its rare to see boar on a menu. (Try it if you do its fantastic.)
The turkey appeared on Christmas tables in England in the 16th century and popular history tells of King Henry VIII being the first English monarch to have turkey for Christmas.
Its said turkey was first brought to Britain in 1526 by Yorkshireman William Strickland who acquired six birds from American Indian traders on his travels and sold them for a tuppence each in Bristol. How times have changed.
The tradition of eating turkey grew in the 17th century, although goose was the predominant bird of choice until the Victorian era. This was mainly in the upper echelons of society rabbit was a more likely dish on the Christmas table for the poor. The Christmas Day menu for Queen Victoria and family in 1840 included turkey, beef and of course a royal roast swan or two.
By the end of the century most people feasted on turkey for their Christmas dinner but goose has made something of a comeback in recent years but about 10 million turkeys will be eaten this Christmas thats about 19,000 tons.
Have a delicious Christmas.
The print version of this article appeared in the December 2011 issue of North East Life
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