The woman who mistook the ham for a turkey

Tuesday, 24 December, 2013

A generation ago, in this part of the world, it was the custom to kill a pig towards the end of November. The animal would be around six months old and the resulting meat was accordingly tender. Covered in salt, the pork would be stored in a barrel and coming up to Christmas a choice ham would be taken out and readied for the feast day. The preparation involved brushing off the salt and steeping the ham overnight in water. On Christmas morning, it would be boiled with carrots, parsnips, turnip and onion.

Anyway, one Christmas, Mrs Murphy, who lived over in the west and was famous for her taste in all matters, arrived with her husband, John, and plates of the ham were duly served. “That’s a lovely bit of turkey,” she declared after a mouthful of the delicious white meat. Those who had cooked it suppressed a smile, but for years after they dined out on the fact that their produce and their cooking of it had deceived such an epicure.


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