Brian Monteith: Turkey at Easter is fowl play by supermarkets

Turkey for Easter! Really? Did I miss something, I wondered, when I saw the television advert? Roast turkey for Easter '“ not spring lamb, not spring chicken or poached fish?

Wednesday, 28th March 2018, 7:00 am
Turkeys are for Christmas but only if they have all the trimmings

I have to admit I am something of an enigma. I have in many respects been a rebel all of my life, and yet I am also a traditionalist.

There are certain habits and routines that with age one grows comfortable with – and welcoming the seasons and embracing the events that define them is part of my traditional outlook. When I have worked abroad in countries suffering just wet or dry seasons, I could not wait to get home and hear the crisp winter snow under my feet, feel a light spring shower on my face, marvel at the clear blue skies above a Scottish beach or be embraced by a peat-infused autumnal fog around me.

I love the different blossoms, the flowers, the golden grasses – and the tumbling leaves as they change hue and fall. Even the mosses that speckle the trees and stones are life-affirming. And of course I appreciate the different foods that come with the seasons – or at least used to. But Easter with turkey?

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I confess, I am not a great fan of turkey. It has far less taste than a good chicken, and is nowhere near as succulent. Although a good chicken is hard to find, it is worth paying more per pound for. Turkey wins favour because our eyes are often larger than our stomachs. We look at the size of the turkey and think it will taste like a big chicken, but it’s not. It’s turkey. It’s dry and pretty tasteless.

In Ireland, turkey’s hugely popular and served all year round in every eatery – but only as turkey & ham – and it’s the ham that makes it work (and the gravy).

Sure, turkey can feed a larger table and looks more impressive but it needs help with lashings of gravy, mounds of stuffing, dollops of cranberries and kilted sausages to distract and add contrast. So while I love and look forward to my Christmas dinner, it is really the trimmings that steal the show and because of that it is a veritable feast and should appear only at that time of year – the feast celebrating Christ’s birth.

Having turkey at Easter is like having Christmas all over again, but with chocolate eggs instead of presents (although that will no doubt be the next wacko idea of the supermarkets).

Turkey is a usurper, replacing other fowl, but that happened long before my time and everybody around me expects turkey at Christmas and shouts down my appeal for a huge rib roast or goose. So when it comes to turkey being advocated for Easter Sunday by certain supermarkets I say, “Whoa there!”

What next, turkey for Burns Suppers? Turkey and pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? Dookin for turkey legs? Or will we be encouraged to go the whole turkey and start having Thanksgiving dinners on the fourth Thursday of November? We’re not the 51st State yet!

Already the word “Easter” has been taken off our Easter eggs as they’re re-branded “chocolate eggs” for ubiquitous acceptance in our multicultural world. Funny, I thought Easter was essentially a Christian festival.

Here’s the deal I’m willing to accept: I’ll settle for Turkey at Christmas (so long as it comes with the trimmings) if the rest of the year is left alone. Turkey kebabs on the BBQ I can stomach (they’re smothered in lashings of hot piquant sauces), even curried turkey is hot to trot (it’s the sauce that does it) – but please, no turkey at Easter.

It’s a bird that can’t fly and neither should this ridiculous idea from the supermarkets.