Gourmets Lead Drive to Restore Roast Goose to the Christmas Table
Judd, Terri, The Independent (London, England)
THE TURKEY'S goose may not be cooked, but this year, as never before, it has a rival for the nation's culinary affections.
While turkey and all the trimmings will characterise the majority of British tables on Monday, what will distinguish the gourmets from the gourmands will be the presence of a large roast goose.
Ten million turkeys will be consumed between now and the new year, but from Islington to Inverness the appetite is for something with a more upmarket image.
Sales of geese, deposed from the festive feast by turkey in the 1960s, have seen a massive rise. This Christmas, 290,000 of the birds - representing a 50 per cent increase within a decade -have been sold to the burgeoning numbers of affluent metropolitans.
London butcher Chris Godfrey said: "The in-crowd are buying geese - and other people are buying turkey. Goose is for people who are foodies, for the trendy. They are bought by actors, City and media types."
Mr Godfrey, whose family has been running their traditional shop in Highbury for four generations, has seen a 20-fold increase in sales of geese since 1990, with demand stronger than ever this year.
But the bird, most closely associated with the world of Dickens' A Christmas Carol has made a comeback, with its 21st century characteristics.
The goose appeals to the gourmet. Hard to rear intensively, it has the cachet of ethical status, is riding high on the demand for organic food and has the snob value of being reassuringly expensive.
John Adlard, chairman of the British Goose Producers' Association, said: "Goose is for the connoisseur. They are far more expensive that the traditional turkey, but you can't compare the two meats - it would be like comparing cod and caviar, chump chop and fillet steak.
"I don't want to be rude about turkey, but you get turkey rolls and turkey burgers all year round. You don't get that with goose."
Mr Adlard, who is the country's largest seller of goslings, credits the resurgence to the fact that the British palate is becoming more "discerning".
"They [consumers] want a fresh product which has been out on the grass, not stuck in a shed for weeks."
Goose has the added attraction being seasonal, available only between Michaelmas (29 September) and Christmas. It is also praised for its healthy properties. Despite being known as fatty, it is lower in cholesterol and higher in protein than turkey.
Mr Lidgate, whose 150-year-old Holland Park butcher supplies organic meat from the Prince of Wales's Highgrove estate, has a different theory about the success of goose sales - along with other birds such as pheasant, partridge and duck. …