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The Indian chicken is served: when did the first turkey appear on the European table?

The Indian chicken is served: when did the first turkey appear on the European table?

The first Europeans to see turkeys with their own eyes were the Spanish sailors of the Colombian era who landed in present-day Mexico and Peru. An unusually large rake bird, which should not be overlooked chiefly for its tail feathers, theatrical vocal expression and male behavior, was bareheaded, bright red, and male demeanor, and was called the “Indian hen”, due to the fact that the Spaniards originally believed They have sailed to India.

It is not without interest that even in the deluge of strange and hitherto unseen things that the inhabitants of the old continent encountered on a daily basis in the New World, the turkey was one of the most fascinating, and curious, things of Europe at the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Fertility symbol on a plate

In the 15th century, raising turkeys in Mesoamerica had a tradition stretching back several millennia. It is estimated that the domestication of this species began at least three thousand years ago, and its varying degrees have been documented in many cultures there, including the Olmec, Maya, Aztec and Inca. Recent research shows that Native American tribes in the United States today also have extensive experience in targeted turkey farming..

Their use was so versatile that, in addition to meat and eggs, the natives of the American continent used barter turkeys and their bones to make tools, weapons, and feathers to decorate jewelry, clothing, and organs in traditional medicine. In some tribes, turkeys appeared as totem or sacrificial animals. They were generally considered a symbol of fertility and blessed fertile land.

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Early modern Europeans approached turkeys reluctantly at first. According to some reports, the first turkey appeared on the European continent in 1519 or 1520 thanks to the Spaniards, and other sources indicate that the first pair from abroad was imported since 1497 by a Genoese businessman and sailor Giovanni Caputo. In both cases, it was at first the Iberian Peninsula, where it gradually began to spread, first in the Kingdom of Spain and then in the Kingdom of Portugal. As in later France, lean turkey was consumed in aristocratic circles as an exotic delicacy.

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The turkey became one of the lower social classes only in England, where, unlike other countries, it also began to be raised with other domestic birds in chicken cages instead of on free pastures. It is worth noting that in the island kingdom began to be called Turkey turkey Noting that it comes from Turkey. Ironically, this bird entered the Ottoman Empire a little later than England.

In general, most European languages ​​in naming Turkey reflect its foreign or Indian origins. These include, for example, Slovak, which means animal Murca. czech expression turkey On the other hand, according to philologists, it is likely related to the vocalization of this bird.