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Turkey Eaten in Much of the World : A Hit in Europe in the 16th Century and Today in France

November 24, 1985|TOM HOGE | AP Wine and Food Writer

Thanksgiving, among the most colorful of American holidays, was first celebrated at a dinner the Pilgrims served in 1621, with roast native turkey accompanied by Indian pudding and succotash, both made from native corn.

The domesticated birds, said to have first been eaten by the Aztec Indians, were introduced in Europe in the early 16th Century, where they scored an immediate hit.

In Colonial times, America's forest lands abounded with wild turkeys and they became America's most popular food birds.

Representative Bird

This abundance and popularity inspired Benjamin Franklin to comment that it should have been chosen instead of the eagle as the representative bird of the United States.

Turkey is not limited to the U.S. mainland. In Hawaii cooked turkey cubes are dipped in beaten eggs and flour and fried. Chinese-style turkey chow mein is popular and turkey curry, presumably from India, has many fans.

In France, roast turkey is served stuffed with a mixture of ground meats, herbs, bread crumbs and Cognac. Some French chefs also add whole chestnuts and foie gras or truffles.

Here's a recipe for Roast Turkey Normandy Style.


2 pounds Pippin apples

Juice of 1 lemon

1 (10-pound) turkey, boned and rolled by butcher

Salt, pepper


5 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 cup apple cider

Peel and quarter apples. Remove cores and halve each quarter. Place apple slices in bowl and sprinkle immediately with lemon juice to prevent browning. Season turkey to taste with salt, pepper and thyme. Heat butter in stock pot until lightly browned. Sear turkey a few minutes on each side until golden. Remove meat and set aside. Reduce heat to low-medium. Add sliced apples and brown 5 minutes, turning carefully every 30 seconds with wooden spoon.

Remove half of apples and line bottom of oval baking dish. Place turkey on top and cover, including sides, with remaining apples. Pour cider into stewing pot and scrape bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Simmer 2 minutes over low heat. Pour cider over turkey and apples. Cover with foil and roast at 350 degrees 50 minutes or until done. Makes about 6 servings.

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