Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Will Be Serving Rabbit

A while ago I was doing a Google Trends search comparing different countries, and noticed an annual pulse in some of the returns. For example, the annual double peak for France matches exactly to the dates of the Tour de France each year. Apparently the Google world searches for France pretty much exclusively to find out about bicycle racing (plus an unfortunate peak around the time of the Air France crash in the Atlantic). But there was a similar annual oddity for Turkey. What annual event in Ankara was causing all the interest? Was that Ramadan? I looked at it for a moment more and then realized that most people searching on Turkey are not interested in the country on the Bosphorus. The little triple blip at the end of the year is for people buying and cooking turkeys, the bird. There's a little rise in October for Thanksgiving as the holiday is celebrated in Canada, a big peak as the Americans have theirs in November, and another peak at the end of December, for Christmas.

To confirm this, limit the search to Canadian results and the shape of the graph changes significantly. Now there are two giant peaks, one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas, with a little blip representing Canadians searching on their neighbours' holiday. Probably ex-pats and people wondering if that's why American businesses aren't answering their phones. And then I noticed that while in Canada the Christmas turkey peak is greater than the Thanksgiving one, in the US the Christmas peak is tiny compared to Thanksgiving. I'm curious about why.

It's probably not a reflection of the fact that almost all Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, but only Christians celebrate Christmas, because the proportion of the two peaks is much less than the proportion of Christians in the population. It could be that having just cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving, Americans either still remember how, thus don't need to google it, or don't want to cook another. So that leads to the question: what do Americans eat instead of turkey for Christmas dinner?

Additionally, a regular turkey peak shows clearly in the Canadian results matched with Easter, but there is none for the USA (discounting 2009, when the US president visited Turkey a few days before Easter). It suggests that Canadians are having turkey for Easter dinner. We get a four day weekend, so maybe we just make a bigger deal of it, but again, Americans have to eat, too. What then do Americans eat for Easter dinner?

I'm sure could google to find out, but it's more fun to ask you.

21 comments:

amulbunny said...

We have ham with a pecan maple glaze, scalloped potatoes and asparagus with a balsamic reduction. Usually a salad with baby greens and the trimmings.

Wine and cheese for dessert.

Garrett M. Wiedmeier said...

Thanksgiving = Turkey
Christmas = Prime Rib
Easter = Ham

At least in my family -- could set your watch by it. Very, very important that this not be broken! ;)

Sue said...

For some reason, I have these pairings in my head for holiday foods:
New Year's - ham
Easter - lamb
Independence Day - salmon
Thanksgiving - turkey
Christmas - goose
I'm a vegetarian so I don't follow these traditions at all. But I also don't know a single person who serves goose for Christmas.

dph said...

'trix

The real question is do any of your northern survival books discuss methods of preparing rabbit? And are you gonna try one to see how it works?

Ham is common for Easter in my house, but lamb is just as good and the occasional substitute.

Jason Hanley said...

When living in the US, I found that ham was the usual Easter meal.

However, I think Easter is also less of a "family time" down there as well, since they don't really get any time off for it.

CeridianMN said...

For us it is ham for Christmas many times, as well as Easter. Occasionally we'll have turkey for Christmas, but only if it is someone hosting that did not host for (American) Thanksgiving. Easter we'll sometimes get cornish game hens instead of ham as around here (Minneapolis, MN suburbs) ham tends to be expensive.

Aviatrix said...

Rabbit is kind of expensive here, so I tend to prepare it in the kitchen with care. Maybe I should start by practicing making snares out of aircraft wiring, to cheapen my supply of rabbit. The survival books recommend you eat the eyeballs, but I guess that's not a preparation technique.

I actually did plan to do some blog entries on trying out survival techniques, then I watched TV this winter instead of building fires. Thanks for the reminder.

townmouse said...

Someone was advertising Easter Turkey here (Scotland) which just looked plain wrong - Easter is for lamb (and chocolate). We traditionally have ham and turkey at Christmas, no thanksgiving, but haggis and neaps and tatties on Burns night.

My American husband reports he used to have ham at Christmas; he considers one turkey a year more than enough. And my sister in France has switched over to a Christmas goose, which is far nicer than turkey

dpierce said...

Thanksgiving = turkey
Christmas = ham
Easter = no set menu

As a child, I thought the whole 'gimmick' of Thanksgiving is the massive turkey dinner, so having another turkey only 30 days later would water down the meaning of Thanksgiving. :)

Wendryn said...

Mmmm. Rabbit.

Thanksgiving = turkey, Christmas = good or prime rib, depending on which side of the family we were talking about that year, and Easter was whatever people felt like making that was celebratory, since my dad didn't like ham. Most people I know who celebrate Easter eat ham, though. Somehow the idea of lamb at Easter seems to take the Lamb of God "This is my body, take, eat" thing to an odd place, but apparently that's just me.

Anonymous said...

tofurky, mmmm. No one need die.

Aviatrix said...

Have you ever had tofurkey? If I were making a vegetarian Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner, I'd roast a squash, then scoop the flesh out and mix it with mushrooms braised in wine and quinoa stuffing, and put it back in, and maybe put some tofu in there too, but not try to sculpt anything turkeylike, especially not out of tofu.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree. Sounds good! mmmm....

Anoynmous said...

Sculpting? I always understood tofurkey's essence to be about flavor and texture, not shape.

Aviatrix said...

I've never had tofurkey. I just assumed it was shaped like a turkey. Guess it's shaped like already carved slices of turkey.

Michael5000 said...

"Almost all Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, but only Christians celebrate Christmas" isn't it. A lot of immigrants to the U.S. ignore Thanksgiving, but almost everybody -- not literally everybody, but almost everybody -- celebrates Christmas to some extent.

It's just that Thanksgiving comes with a single very dominant food association -- Turkey -- and Christmas is much more on a family-tradition sort of basis.

Syrad said...

Christmas doesn't have a traditional menu in the US (except for the eggnog, of course). The most popular choices are ham or goose, but turkey is very rare. There's no tradition that says you can't have turkey for Christmas, but coming a mere two months after Thanksgiving most people seem to want something different for their next big holiday meal. My family tends to go with ham. I'll also bet you'll see the biggest spike of the year for goose in the US around Christmas.

Curt Sampson said...

Christmas has certainly become a non-Christian holiday. (Or rather, I suppose, the Christian holiday that got dumped on top of winter solstice didn't really stick, but the holiday did.)

Christmas is huge in Japan, which has a pretty distinct lack of Christians. But a lot of people go out (Christmas eve is a really big date night); new year's eve is the time to go home and hang out with your family.

Colin said...

Turkey's always been associated with Christmas in my Canadian mind, so I've been surprised by American friends who didn't share this belief. At the same time, they seem to take their Thanksgiving much more seriously.

Sarah said...

And..... delayed joke recognition in 5 days, 4 ... 3 ... 2... 1...

Serving a Bunny!? I hope you don't invite any little kids.

Aviatrix said...

I really do cook rabbit for Easter when I'm home, with fresh spring vegetables and ice cream garnished with those little chocolate Easter eggs for desert. It started as a joke, but it's become a tradition, so much that I forget it might be weird. We had rabbit for groundhog day too this year: closest I could get. I have to find a source of venison for Christmas next year. :-)

But what should I serve for Queen Victoria Day next month?