Several years ago I realized everything I had read about Michaelmas goose (the custom of eating goose on the feast of St. Michael, the 29th of September) were from 19th century sources that were all assured that such practices, if true once, were true always. I couldn’t recall – or find – a 17th century source about the practice. Rents are due; it’s a quarter day; some contracts end while other begin; sheriffs are elected. ( St Michael is the patron saint of law enforcement officers in the 21st century US Catholic Church).
All well and good, but is it any reason to put a goose on the table?
So I said NO. Even this morning at our English Village morning meeting, I said eat goose because it’s the season, not because of the day.
As wise as a gooce, or as wise as her mothers aperen string.
So I spent some time Googling ‘goose’ and ‘Michaelmas’ and – here’s the eating crow part -
At the Agecroft Home site I found:
These days were mentioned in a 1575 poem by George Gascoigne:
And when the tenantes come to paie their quarter’s rent,
They bring some fowls at Midsummer, a dish of fish in Lent;
At Christmasse a capon, at Michaelmasse a goose,
And somewhat else at New-yere’a tide, for feare their lease flie loose
George Gascoigne was a courtier, poet, artist, all round swell in and around the court of Queen Elizabeth. He’s also the one who gets the credit for writing/translating the story that William Shakespeare used as the basis for the Taming of The Shrew. Not bad work being the muse of the Bard. Now, I haven’t found exactly which of his poems this excerpt comes from….but I’m not waiting a year to make my retraction. As always, a work in progress.
A second theory as to the origins of the Michaelmas goose, involves Queen Elizabeth, the Spanish Armada and – well, that still appears to be nonsense.
But I won’t be one To steal a Goose, and give the giblets in almes.
To farce a roasted Goose or Duck.
Take out all of the loose fat inside the Goose, take a Wheat-bread of 2 stuyvers, cut off the crusts, finely grate them, mix in a half pond Currants, one and a half loot Cinnamon, two heaping spoons of Sugar, a good piece of Butter with a little Rhenish wine, but as dry as possible just so it has been moistened. It will be a good stuffing. Geese and Ducks are filled also with Chestnuts from which the peels and membranes have been removed with Butter.
- Rose, Sensible Cook, p. 66.
stuyvers are coins worth 1/20 of a guilder; a pond equals a pound; a loot is 1/2 ounce
Speaking of angels, keeping co-worker Eva Lipton in our thoughts and prayers.