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British Expat Newsletter: November 2014

Hello, and welcome to those of you who have recently signed up.

In this issue

This month

Here’s our news about the latest additions to the BE website.

Wayne Green of Love Removals has sent us a checklist to help those who are moving overseas. It’s also handy if you’re planning to repatriate. The checklist will help you to avoid forgetting to do something important.

We also added a new Pic of the Week. This time we featured the American Falls at Niagara. There are three waterfalls at Niagara, one of which is the American Falls. Can you name the other two? Check out our page and find out!

How much do you know about coats? I expect that most people wouldn’t give much thought about coats at all. Who would have guessed that coats would be so interesting? Try our Quick Quiz and be prepared to be amazed by the fascinating subject of coats!

Editorial: Why is a turkey a turkey?

Everyone knows that turkey’s a relatively new American import and that goose is the traditional Christmas bird… don’t they?

Well, yes and no. It’s true that goose is the traditional centrepiece of the Christmas dinner. (You only have to look at Dickens for evidence of that. And of course there’s the old rhyme “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…”)

But turkey has been around for a lot longer than you might think. In two incarnations, in fact.

The original turkey was imported, not from the New World, but from sub-Saharan Africa. These days it’s known as the helmeted guinea fowl, Numida meleagris. It first landed on British shores courtesy of merchants from Turkey, who may have brought it from Madagascar. Obviously it wasn’t called Numida meleagris until considerably later, and most people had never heard of Madagascar. But they had heard of Turkey, and the association stuck.

(In other European countries, different associations led to different names for the bird. The French call the turkey le dinde, from their words for “from India”—d’Inde. The Germans call it die Pute, which is an onomatopoeic word that supposedly echoes the sound the birds make. (An alternative dialect name, der Kollerhahn, sounds a bit closer to the mark—it loosely translates as “gobble rooster”.)

Then when the Spanish colonised the Americas at the beginning of the sixteenth century, they brought a similar-tasting but unrelated bird (known to ornithologists as Meleagris gallopavo, rather confusingly). The name was applied to both birds indiscriminately before definitively becoming attached to the American bird.

The turkey was pretty well-established even by the seventeenth century. Samuel Pepys mentions turkeys several times in his diary, including in the very first entry on 1 January 1660. But Pepys was relatively well-to-do, and turkey was a treat beyond many households’ budgets. So goose was the Christmas bird of choice for poor families up until at least the nineteenth century. (In A Christmas Carol, the Cratchit family have a goose lined up for their celebration, until the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge sends them a prize turkey.)

The idea of a turkey at Christmas caught on so well that early settlers in Australia were delighted to find a similar bird, the “bush turkey” (Alectura lathami, now known as the Australian brushturkey) that they could roast to remind them of Christmas dinners “back home”. However, the birds were tough and stringy, having grown to maturity in the wild rather than being raised on farms.

Nowadays turkey is among the cheapest meat and poultry you can buy, thanks to the efforts of people like Bernard Matthews. Unless of course you’re living somewhere exotic where it hasn’t really hit the menu yet. We’ve had to pay silly prices overseas to buy a Butterball crown roast that would have cost maybe a tenner in the UK.

Bah, humbug. Give me a decent piece of pork any day.

What makes it onto your table on 25 December? Maybe you like to have a Christmassy dinner even though you’re not a Christian. (Any excuse for a party.) Why not tell us on the forum?

By the way, if you want some hints about how to create a Christmas dinner without the stress, check out our sister site Not Delia for Christmas dinner made easy.

Write for British Expat

Would you like to write for British Expat? Sorry, we don’t pay for articles but if you have a website we’ll link to it in the author’s blurb below any of your articles we publish. We use all sorts of content as long as it’s useful and/or interesting to our readership.

Besides articles, we also publish quick trivia quizzes—five questions about any subject. So, if you’d like to write for us but don’t feel like producing a literary masterpiece, then why not try writing a quickie quiz about your city, country, or even your hobby? Please use our contact form to get in touch.

British Expat Amazon Shopping

Amazon don’t just do books, you know. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you the ultimate in online shopping—from a micro SD card to a garden shed! A great way to do your shopping online, especially if the shops aren’t up to much in your part of the world.
BE Amazon Shop: UK & EU | BE Amazon Shop: non-EU

And now for something completely different…

While Christmas is famously a time when a miraculous virgin birth is celebrated, the animal kingdom uses good old-fashioned sex to reproduce. Evolution has come up with a bewildering variety of ways to help the process along. Some of the mechanisms that species have evolved to try to exclude other species’ bits have to be seen to be believed…
BBC Earth: The twisted world of sexual organs

So there’s a round-up of all that’s been going on. Come on over and see for yourself! Don’t forget…
Visit the BE website and join in with our lively community!

Till next time…

Happy surfing!

British Expat—the definitive home for British expats

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