Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the show-down you have all been waiting for. The Christmas Cracker, the face-off between the Polish Christmas special, carp, and the Anglo-phonic favourite, turkey!
In the blue corner. the pride of Poland, the carp. Weighing in at 18 pounds (8 kilos), he doesn’t pack a big punch, but is a slippery customer and can wriggle his way out of trouble more often than not. In the red corner, we have the Western wonder, the turkey. Also weighing in at an of average 18 pounds, this means it’s going to be a closely fought contest. With 5 categories to fight for, we must have a winner today – so let’s get ready to cook up a feast!
Ding, ding, and the bell goes for round one. The two competitors are swinging hard, but the carp looks to have the upper hand (surely ‘fin’–ed.) early on. This round focuses on the freshness of the competitors. The carp traditionally has been kept fresh for as long as possible, with the fishy fighter being given the chance to maintain that ‘just-caught’ look. Thus pride of place in the bathroom is afforded to it, with it’s own private pool given in the bath. Meanwhile, the turkey tends to require freezing, and in reverse thawing takes most of Christmas Eve in order to be ready to cook for the Christmas meal. This round goes to the carp, as the turkey waddles back to his corner already battle weary.
“It looks fresh, but will I really want to eat it?”
However, it looks like the break has done wonders for the turkey and he’s back out ready to take on the carp again. The turkey has got his friends the chicken and the goose in his corner and they have been psyching him up for the second round, with presentation being the battle-ground. The carp is looking somewhat nervous, and rightly so. The turkey has come out with an all over golden brown colour and and strong shine. On the opposing side, the carp has entered in a batter covering. But wait… what’s this? Oh, bad news for the carp – there are some fish-bones sticking out of the side, and the judges are not going to look favourably on that. The turkey has taken the second round easily.
The taste test follows rapidly, and the carp looks like the setback in the last round is still preying on his mind. He is first to be tasted, but the fish is flat and a bit lifeless. The turkey meanwhile, has laid on quite a feast, with a number of options to tickle any palate. There’s white meat, dark meat, breast, leg and thigh and with the final accompanying touch of gravy over the top, the turkey is on a roll and has won two rounds in a row.
“Are you a leg or a breast man?”
With the possibility of winning the clash here, the turkey is understandably confident and is walking with quiet a swagger. However, all can change, as we approach the carp’s speciality round – religious adherence. In a country such as Poland, this was always going to be a decisive round, as any food involved in celebrating a religious holiday should naturally fall in line with the guidelines for most holy reckoning. Even as a ‘white meat’, the turkey was never going to have much opportunity here, and he retires early in order to prepare for the final, decisive round of the competition.
Jesus was a fish, as well as Lamb of God. Meat is devil food… on Fridays, and religious holidays at least.
And so we move onto the final round and with the scores tied at 2 rounds apiece. This makes for an exciting finale. This round will consider the adaptability of the two competitors to see how they can fit into the Christmas celebration as a whole. As food tends to play such an important part in the holiday season, you want your best cuisine to represent itself well. Carp has made a good showing here, it can be used as part of the main meal of Christmas, and can be considered to even feature as part of a fish starter or as an ingredient in a chowder or similar fish soup. However, the turkey comes out strong, and starts swinging. First off is the main Christmas meal, then it follows up with the possibility of re-use with the meal on the second day of Christmas, should a big enough turkey be used. And finally with the knockout blow, it launches it’s special weapon – leftovers! With potential for over 180 leftover recipes, including sandwiches, soups and stews, the turkey has won this round, and the clash overall. The level of adaptability shown has made it a winner overall, but only after a hard-fought battle.
December 25th, 8.00pm: “Anyone fancy a turkey sandwich?”