The Big Mistake That Gave Turkeys Their Name
The culinary world is full of misnamed and misidentified dishes and delicacies. The turkey is one of those misnamed items. It would make sense that the bird, the turkey, would be called that because it came from Turkey the country. That's not exactly the case.
Turkey, the country, when translated means "land of the Turks". The Turks as a population and culture have been around for a long time. So how did settlers in North America get the big birds that were native to what is now the United States confused with the country and the culture of Turkey?
Well, it's kind of like getting your news from Facebook. You only get the part of the story people want to talk about. In this case, a bird, the guinea fowl, that bears a striking resemblance to the North American turkey is to blame.
That bird is actually native to North Africa. Since it had to be imported into Europe the people assumed that the bird was coming from the "land of the Turks".That's where a lot of other imported items were coming from. These guinea fowl became known as "turkeys".
Fast forward to the New World, North America at the time of the Pilgrims. The settlers noticed a large bird, similar in size, stature, and overall ugliness roaming in the woods. Since many settlers believed they were close to the West Indies it would only make sense that the birds would be the same birds they had seen imported in Europe. Therefore they called them turkeys.
Did you know that in Turkey, the country, they call the bird hindi which translates to Indian? In France, your turkey, the bird, would be called coq d’Inde. In Portugal, the bird is known as Peru Bird. Here in Louisiana we just call them delicious.