Those Crazy Expats

1998 > Russia

Now is it Turkey, or turkey? Well, do you feel lucky, punk?

Working in an international firm dominated by Americans and
Brits has its advantages, but sometimes I forget that not all the expats
in Moscow are native American (or English) speakers. I subscribe to an
American dominated listserve that can illustrate this point quite well.
Just read the discussion below:

Nov 11 98, 08:25 AM
Mike Rhodes

General information for those hunting Turkey. (‘Shhhhhhh. Be
vewy vewy quiet, I am hunting tuwkey.’) My wife bought a reasonably
priced Butterball at Ramstore today.

Mon, 23 Nov 1998 13:55:16
Linda Bendelin

As a non-native English speaker, I just wonder what you’re really
hunting. I mean Turkey is where it has always been, isn’t it (well, I
know they lost large parts of Europe, but they still kept a corner).

Does hunting turkey for your Christmas table really need the
capitalization? It might just be that we Swedes do not understand this,
as turkey (not Turkey) has nothing to do with Christmas to us, or should
we call our pork Pork? Did I miss something? Clarification please! Quite
a few of us look to you natives to learn, you know.

By the way, what (or where) is Butterball?

Tue, 24 Nov 1998 09:21:01
B. Adamson

Cute letter, Linda …

If you did wish some turkey info: Turkey is related to the American
Thanksgiving, which will be celebrated by many this Thursday (26 Nov) –
in relation to the first ‘dinner’ held by the Pilgrim settlers
in America, supposedly with the native Indians (the peaceful ones) who
had helped them learn to plant corn, etc. It was to celebrate the
harvest in the new land and to give thanks for the welfare of those
present (maybe you have heard of Pocahontas or Captain John Smith or
Priscilla & John Alden – some of the famous names of that day). Many
Pilgrims lost their lives in attempts to get to America, and deaths
occurred after the settlement began (and continues happening even until

The present online ‘turkey hunt’ refers to the bird to cook
on the day. Many Americans think the Butterball (brand name) is the
best-tasting, most moist meat. A lot depends on how you cook the turkey,
any brand. In the U.S. there are many who still hunt (with a gun – maybe
even with a bow & arrow in some states?) for the wild turkey, to put
it on the table for their family’s dinner. The wild turkey is supposed
to be one of the craftiest animals to hunt, and you have to be a
knowledgeable cook to make it a tasty bird.

With the (cooked) turkey on the table, one might find: sweet potato
casserole, mushroom or oyster stuffing or cornbread dressing, peas or
beans or…., mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, homemade rolls with butter,
salad, cranberry sauce, etc. The dessert menu might include ambrosia
(fresh orange slices or fruit with coconut flakes and sugar), pumpkin
pie with whipped cream, mincemeat pie, pecan pie, or any other
favorite… This is a representative Southern dinner with a couple of
Northern dishes added. Someone else might portray ‘their

Turkey is also used for Christmas dinner, along with goose, ham,
venison (deer),… Some eat ‘Tex-Mex’! Basically, you
celebrate with what you decide, often based on family custom or
tradition — or enjoyment of meals you learned to like elsewhere in
life. No particular capitals needed for turkey (unless you want to put
them!). My dictionary says there was some confusion with the guinea
fowl, supposed to have been imported from Turkish territory. The turkey
is an American bird of the grouse and pheasant family, now domesticated
many places over the world (and still found in the wild throughout North

More than you ever wanted to know

24 November 1998 11:55
Walter Whitelon

B. I think you missed Linda’s point. Her point (as I understood it )
was: ‘Turkey’ is in Eurasia, ‘turkey’ is a bird.

Tue, 24 Nov 1998 09:27:27
Linda Bendelin

You got it right, Walter. Maybe it’s just being a Swede, but I do get
a bit insecure when people get their capitalization wrong. Who knows, I
might end up in some soup recipe before I know it, and people will start
hunting for us poor Swedes. And I can tell you, that’s when I know I’ve
been in Russia too long…

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