Thursday, November 26, 2009

El Dia de Los Guajolotes

""""[The Bald Eagle] is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country.......For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America..."""

Ben Franklin referred to turkeys as the Bird of Courage and recommended that the wild turkey, instead of the eagle--perhaps a bit germanic and gyrfalcon-like for Father Ben-- be enshrined as the official American bird-symbol. Franklin also rightfully identified the turkey as a native of America, and not, as many settlers (even somewhat scientific ones) thought a type of old world peafowl--one may still note the etymological confusion in the spanish word for turkey, pavo, from latin for peafowl (also noted in french, d'inde, for poulet (chicken) of india)). The Aztecs and Mayans domesticated the wild turkey (various subspecies range across the new world), but the indigenous mexican "guajolote" from Aztec [Nauhuatl] huehxolotl (ethno-linguists translate that as big boy, more or less) obviously derives from neither the latinate "pavo" or "turkey" (turkey is mistaken etymology as well: anglos mistook the native American bird for a species of asian guinea fowl (which were from Turkey).

The conquistadores brought the birds back to España, domesticated them, and the domesticated guajolotes then were exported across Europe starting 1500 or so; the pilgrims brought the European turkeys to America, and cultivated them. The old taxonomists more or less screwed things up: the turkey, whether native to north America, or the domesticated central American variety was no peacock (though like peacocks, pheasants, grouse, and chicken, turkeys are part of the order Galliformes). The wild turkey of Western US, cousin of the central American guajolote--with glossy black feathers, some light markings, leaner and meaner than ordinary sort--bears little resemblance to the cultivated fat brown turkey executed by the millions for the thanksgiving feast. Salud!


CharleyCarp said...

Interesting. Lots of wild one 'round here: you all have them as well? Happy TG.

J said...

Hello Mr Carp.

Ive seen wild turkeys in sierra foothills..and in AZ mountains around Flagstaff. A slightly different species from the "guajolotes" (ie mayan birds that the sp. took back and domesticated, and now..are "turkeys" thx to Anglos). The American birds are usually fairly lean.

Happy holidays.

Custom Search

Blog Archive