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Goose in the Rus

From time immemorial goose was a delicious dish not only for simple people, but even "many excellencies" couldn't tear themselves from roast goose. On 15 September (by old calendar style) there was a holiday called Nikita-Goosyatnik (Goosyatnik is man who breeds geese). "Till Nikita-Goosyatnik, a goose puts on weight and afterwards it loses the paunch". goose People of the Rus had a tradition to keep geese not only for food needs, but also for fighting. Fighting geese were the pride of the host, so they were fed separately from simple birds and were valued very highly. On Nikita-Goosyatnik the amateur goose-fighters visited all their neighbors, knocked in a specific way at the door and the host greeted the guest with a goblet (in Russian "charka") of honey beverage. After that the host showed his goose flock to his guest. If the host was favorably disposed towards someone, he presented geese to comers and they, having got such a present, did the same. Then all goosyatniki went to the richest and the most generous man among them as the most welcomed guests. A large goblet with honey beverage was offered all around and the people who tasted this drink left the host a large bread ("Kalach") for "goose house-warming". Then they brought the best geese decorated with red ribbons, men splashed wine and honey on them, drank over their heads and bet with each other. At the time of corvee (Barschina (in Russian) is a tax when a peasant must work with his own equipment on the land of the master) there was a special ceremony: boyars were presented a male goose with a necklace and a female goose with a red shawl. Boyars, in their turn, greeted peasants with honey beverage and vine. From Nikita-Gooosyatnik it was permissible to shoot wild geese. Young geese are very good to fry and old ones are better for stewing. Fried goose is always served with something sour. It can be apples, sauerkraut or pickled mushrooms. Here is one recipe from my collection. Hopefully you'll like it.

Goose v Yablokach (Goose in Apples)
1 ea average goose
4 tb raisins
1 tb sugar
15 ea sour sweet average apples
10 ea olives
salt to taste
green parsley

Rub inside and outside of a drawn cleaned goose with salt. Peel and quarter 8 apples. Put raisins in hot water until they are swollen. Mix raisins and apples with sugar. Stuff the goose with the filling and sew up the opening. Put the goose on its back into the pan. Add 1/2 cup of water and put in a hot oven. As soon as the goose is light brown, turn it so the seam side is down. When all the sides are gold, make the heat very low. Baste the goose regularly (every ten minutes). After three hours of such baking, the goose will be ready. Put other apple halves around the goose, pour the fat upon them and bake until the apples are soft (but they must not crack). Take the filling from the goose out on a large dish, put the goose on the top and place apples around. Put olive halves in place of seeds on the apples. Decorate the dish with green parsley.

Bon appetit,

By Olga Timokhina

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