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With the passing of Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali, it's Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner and with these festivals, the emblematic turkey replaces modaks and karanjis. Both Thanksgiving, falling on November 22 this year, and Christmas, celebrated on December 25 every year, are festivals celebrated with traditional meals shared with family and friends. While several courses are served, the central item on the Thanksgiving and Christmas tables are usually turkey.
In the early 1600s, a group of Englishmen known as the Pilgrims decided to settle down in America, in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. After their first harvest in the New World in 1621, they organised a feast that came to be known as the First Thanksgiving. Wild turkey, found abundantly in the surrounding areas at that time, became one of the main items at the feasts and roast turkey became a lasting symbol of the festival.
The history behind the Christmas turkey however, is slightly different. The traditional centrepiece at a Christmas dinner table would usually be a large boar. When turkey was introduced to England in the 1600s, legend has it that Henry VIII was the first monarch to have a Christmas turkey. Through the 16th and 17th centuries, the fowl picked up great popularity and was soon part of the tradition. One of the most poignant scenes in Charles Dickens' famous Christmas novel, 'A Christmas Carol' is the bit where Scrooge sends a prize turkey to his office clerk, Bob Cratchit.
This year, restaurants in Pune will bring old traditions alive with their own take on the customary Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey. Arthur's Theme in Koregaon Park does a traditional roast turkey that is very popular with local foodies and those celebrating Thanksgiving or Christmas. In fact, manager Kabir Ahuja says, roast turkey is something of a specialty at Arthur's Theme and that it is one of the few places in the city to serve it any time throughout the year, on request. "We take orders two days in advance and have it ready either for lunch or dinner. It is a popular item at Arthur's Theme and people come from all over the city to try it out," he says. Demand increases especially in November and December as the festive season begins.