Seven fold appeal of goose — resilient today as through the ages

Published 4 December 2012

1 The goose was seen through the centuries as the traditional roast meal for the Christmas table.

2 Its popularity in Victorian times is illustrated in novels by Charles Dickens. In A Christmas Carol describing the Cratchit family’s Christmas meal: ‘There was never such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration….everyone had had enough and the youngest Cratchits in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows!’

3 The goose is celebrated in nursery rhymes such as ‘Goosey, goosey gander’ and ‘Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat’. And in pantomime Mother Goose is still one of the most popular performed shows.

4 The goose has been renowned through the ages for its many uses besides the meat. Goose fat is a much softer fat than found in red meat, with high proportion of the more desirable mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Top chefs love to use it in cooking and it’s acclaimed for producing the best roast potatoes and parsnips. In the past goose fat was also used for medicinal purposes, rubbed on the chest as a cure for coughs and colds.

5 In the past the goose has also provided feathers for arrows, plumes for hats and quills for writing letters. Today feathers and down are much prized for bedding and quilted jackets. Down filled one-piece suits and sleeping bags are used by Everest expeditions.

6 Goose is the Christmas favourite in much of Europe. The Germans favour a potato stuffing, with onion, parsley and marjoram. In Czechoslovakia it might be made of sauerkraut, apples and caraway seeds. Some nations braise goose in wine or broth, serve it with pears and cognac, or even smoke it like salmon.

7 In the Christmas song The Twelve Days of Christmas geese are featured on the sixth day, symbolizing in religion the six days of creation. On the sixth day of Christmas My true love sent to me Six geese a-laying Five golden rings Four calling birds Three French hens Two turtle doves And a partridge in a pear tree