The turkey is a bird I could live without. As Pippa Middleton reminds us, it is convenient for feeding large numbers, but that ought not to be the test. It seems more than a little ominous if the first thing to be considered is its ability to assist with mass catering. Just multiply your chickens or pheasants is my alternative suggestion. That said, the size of the bird does mean a large quantity of the very finest dripping, for spreading on toast with flakes of sea salt.
To begin with, we did have turkey on Christmas Day. My father was particularly keen on it cold and there I think he is right. There is something rather fine about slices of cold, dry, crumbly turkey breast. That reminds me of the appalling moment in our house when I realised that the turkey which I had been picking at had started to grow a white beard. Cucumber with lashings of Tabasco seemed, for some reason, a sensible plan.
Let me conclude with a post-Christmas story. It happened in London, maybe the day after Boxing Day. Plenty of cold food around. I had offered to prepare supper for my parents and the offer had been accepted. So I "paved their plates" with turkey slices, probably cold ham as well, and potato salad. Then disaster struck when I decided to make a French dressing to go on the green salad. Olive oil and wine vinegar: can't go wrong, you might think. But shortly after I triumphantly carried in the plates of food came howls of outrage from my mother. What on earth had I put into the salad dressing? It turned out that the bottle of what I thought was red wine vinegar was in fact cherry brandy.
Completely unintended by me, but my mother was unforgiving, thinking it was one of my "jokes" which had been becoming increasingly tiresome of late. But food was not something with which I would ever joke.