"There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed as Mrs Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of bone upon the dish), "they hadn't ate it all at last"."
There's something terribly Dickensian and Christmasy about our old friend the goose, isn't there? Up until the 1890's most people in England didn't eat turkey, because it was so incredibly expensive. That's why it's such a big deal when Ebeneezer Scrooge buys a massive turkey for the Cratchit family, who would normally be huddled round their scrappy little goose come Christmas Day.
But which one is better? The goose or the turkey? I like turkey, I do. But it has a tendency to become dry and stringy, and by Boxing Day most sane people are fed up with it; even when it's turned into our famed Boxing Day Turkey Curry. There is no doubt that a fresh turkey is preferable to a frozen one. If you have a frozen one, for god's sake make sure that it has thawed properly, otherwise you and your family could get yourselves into serious trouble. If you can, try and get the gamey tasting English Black Norfolk, or the American Bronze variety.
And some more advice: stuff the bird at the last minute, rather than the night before. The immediate problem with goose is that there just isn't going to be enough meat on the thing. If you've got lots of friends and family coming round, then some of them are going to go hungry. It tastes delicious, and has a rich and gamey flavour, but there's also going to be lots of fat. I'm fine with that, but there will be some poor souls out there who will want to run for the hills.
Paul Levy also reckons that the goose is really at its prime come Michaelmas (ie September) rather than December. So my advice on this one: if there are just a few of you- go for goose, and sit back and enjoy the rich and subtle flavours; if you've got a horde coming round, go for turkey, but try and get a properly reared and decent variety, and cook it with care. I know this is expensive, but as it's only once a year, I think it's going to be a good investment. Joy to the World!