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".
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
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.
By Olga Timokhina