Only in Transylvania.
Perhaps I should start, as Bram Stoker did, at the beginning: which found me wandering around dazed in a New year’s Eve supermarket.
We ate elsewhere on Christmas Day, and Phil did not get his favourite elements of this traditional repast: forcemeat, and bread sauce. He never complains: but I said , Dear, do not fret. I shall cook you a Christmas Dinner with your favourite trimmings on New Year’s Day.
So there I was, up and down the aisles and in and out of the freezers, collating an approximation of a decent Christmas dinner.
When I saw the price of the turkeys I blanched. Visibly. And my ire rose: for how could anyone justify asking a king’s ransom for a turkey, however big, when the chickens next door were a third of the price? Did they feed the turkeys caviar in life, and afford them four-poster beds?
So I bought a magnificent chicken and bore it home, and this morning it was put into the oven with infinite care and attention.
We walked into the house after it had been roasting a while. “”Mmmm, roast chicken,” Phil said appreciatively.
“Not chicken. Honorary turkey,” I told him.
Every time someone called it a chicken I upbraided them. It was turkey for the day. No negotiation.
But this resulted in many a discussion about the fact that it was not, under any circumstances, to be called chicken. Finally Felix intervened as we tucked in to the feast. “It’s churkey, Mum,” he announced, clearly pleased with this amalgam.
Inventive, if a little onomatopoeically unfortunate. I held my silence and resolved to turn Google to my advantage a little later.
It took 0.21 seconds to obtain 22,500 results.
Clearly my son was not the only one who had been pleased to employ this strange word. It was being used to describe a mysterious breed of bird indeed.
It is lamentable that chickens are unable to write, and thus document, their lineage with data backed up by wild, extravagant chicken ancestral folklore. This we must fill in for ourselves, for chickens are of limited brain, when all is said and done.
However what is undeniable is that a strange hybrid chicken has been living in Transylvania for some considerable time: a chicken with a turkey’s neck. Did Vlad the Impaler himself take a little time out from slaughtering infidels to do a little heinous chicken breeding? It is doubtful. Such toying with biology does not have quite the same rush as either the battlefield or dastardly hellish immortality.
Yet someone, out there in the wilds of the Carpathian Mountains, has been warping nature to create churkeys. Or Turkens. Or whatever.
The Transylvanian Naked-Necked Chickens were imported into the UK in the 1920s and now they have their claws under the British table. Scientists at Edinburgh University’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council are getting hot under the collar about the possibilities of mass production of chickens with no feathers at the neck. it’s all about mutating chromosome 3, I believe.
Research leader Dr Denis Headon told the BBC: “Not only does this help our understanding of developmental biology and give insight into how different breeds have evolved, but it could have practical implications for helping poultry production in hot countries, including those in the developing world.”
Churkeys might be cooler in hot countries, and thus lay more eggs than their humble chicken cousins.
It sounds so logical, doesn’t it, in the cold light of day?
But without being chickenist: I wouldn’t be breeding any more of these Transylvanian imports, myself.
They’re just too weird.
Feature picture source here