Goose Puts Michaelmas Back on Calendar

UK - As more restaurants plan to put goose on the menu at Michaelmas — and top retailers such as Harrods start selling goose — this traditional feast and quarter day is again becoming part of the British calendar.
calendar icon 24 September 2012
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September 29 is Michaelmas Day for most of the country although Norfolk sticks with October 11 as the Old Michaelmas Day before an Act of Parliament in 1752 removed 11 days as Britain switched to the Gregorian calendar — and Suffolk celebrates October 4 as a compromise.

In days gone by when rents were due on Michaelmas tenant farmers would often present their landlord with a goose which was associated with guarding against financial woes. Folklore declares: ‘Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day, not want for money all year long.’

Oxfordshire producer Bill Homewood, who has been supplying geese for Harrods store in Knightsbridge for 30 years, is this autumn also being asked for birds for Michaelmas.

‘We’re delighted that Harrods are starting to see the potential for Michaelmas sales,” said Mr Homewood, who produces around 3000 geese for Christmas at Peach Croft Farm, Radley, near Abingdon. “We’re also getting more orders for Michaelmas from our local butchers in the Oxford covered market, and Blade Bone Butchers, at Bucklebury, near Reading.”

Norfolk is one county where a Michaelmas dinner is being reintroduced. Lecturers and students at City College Norwich are working with British Goose Producers in developing new goose recipes and some of them will be featured at the event at the college’s Debut Restaurant on Thursday October 4.

Part of the month-long Norfolk Food & Drink Festival, the Michaelmas dinner will be cooked by students under the expert guidance of Chris Busby, executive chef of Brasteds restaurant.

In Essex goose producer Howard Blackwell is putting goose on the menu at a new restaurant he’s just opened at Earls Colne, near Colchester.

“Across the country we find that more restaurateurs are seeing the appeal of traditional, seasonal menus,” said Eddie Hegarty, BGP chairman. “Michaelmas provides a wonderful opportunity to offer something special to attract attention and win new customers.”

A growing number of London restaurants are offering goose on the menu, with The Goring in Belgravia featuring it for a whole week. Around the country Michaelmas goose will also be served at restaurants from the Talbot Inn, Knightwick, in Worcestershire, and the Brace of Pheasants at Plush, Dorset, to the Horseshoes Inn at Eddlestone, Peebles, in the Scottish Borders.

Charlotte Johnson

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