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|Christmas Meal Meats
Written by BarbaraB
(2/11/2013 12:27 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Letter 77: Eating turkies for Christmas, penned by Line
From Jane Austen's Christmas:
The brawn of old England, a remnant of the boars's head, was still very popular in Jane's time. It was known as both brawn and souse, which was a pickled version. The Austen's farm produce at Steventon included pigs which made brawns as well as many other tasty meat portions...
While mutton held pride of place on many an eighteenth-century Christmas table, and was the Christmas Eve dish served roasted to John Knightley in the novel Emma, venison was the socially accepted meat for the very wealthy. To have venison showed that one had sufficient parklands to graze deer, thus it was a high status symbol...
The now popular turkey was well known to the Austens who in fact bred the birds. At the end of season ball, probably for a belated Twelfth Night party on 8 January 1796, Jane relates that her brother James 'cut up the turkey with great perseverance', and later in 1812, Jane wrote to Martha Lloyd asking for an address of one acquaintance, Mr Morton, to whom she wished to send a Christmas gift of a turkey.
The Christmas goose, however, was not so Christmassy in Georgian and Regency times, it being more popular at Michaelmas in September, which was the time of the goose and hiring fairs. At this time, young geese had always been sold at market to fatten up for Christmas, and the hirelings would present themselves at the same markets to be taken on by a new employer. It was said that to eat goose on Michaelmas ensured good financial luck;.... Jane Austen wrote to Cassandra on Michaelmas 1813, 'I dined upon Goose today, which I hope will secure a good Sale of my 2nd edition.'
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