I mentioned my Thanksgiving Turkey in yesterday’s post.
So why do we call it Turkey? There is a reason, and as happens so many times, the all-American bird got its name somewhat by mistake.
The tale begins with the British Empire which had stretched itself into Africa during the sixteen hundreds. Along with diamonds, the British exported a wild eatable bird back to England, but to get the shipment to the British Isles the cargo was routed through Turkey and supposedly that is how the big bird got its name.
When the sharp-eyed settlers spotted a similar winged bird strutting through the American colonies, they called it a turkey.
Scientists who study these sort of things tell us the bird that lives in Africa, that was imported to Europe by way of Turkey, is not the same bird that is native to America.
We probably ought to call our bird ” Meleagris,” that’s what the turkey is known as in scientific jargon, and that comes from the Greek. In fact, one of the earliest mentions of the Meleagris comes from Aristotle. Just think, if the bird had first been exported from his country we could be sitting down to a Greece dinner with all the trimmings.