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Turkey-And-Egg Question: Which Came First, The Country Or The Bird?

Fowl play
Fowl play
Bertrand Hauger

PARIS — The Internet from the East was buzzing with Erdogan, from the West were Thanksgiving recipes ... All this got us Worldcrunch birds to finally ask out loud: Why does a nation of 75 million share a name with a holiday fowl? Is it mere linguistic coincidence? Some unsolved historical-ornithological riddle? A bad idea for a cookbook?

Here is how Reference.com's dictionary talks turkey:

In the 1540s, the guinea fowl, a bird with some resemblance to the Thanksgiving avian, was imported from Madagascar through Turkey by traders known as Turkish merchants. ... Then, the Spaniards brought turkeys back to the Americas by way of North Africa and Turkey, where the bird was mistakenly called the same name. Europeans who encountered the bird in the Americas latched on to the "turkey fowl" name, and the term was condensed simply to "turkey."

Confused yet? Maybe Monica and Chandler can help ...

But it gets even trickier: Giancarlo Casale, a specialist in the history of the early modern Ottoman empire at the University of Minnesota, notes that the Portuguese word for turkey is "peru." Even better, the Turkish word for "India" is "Hindistan," meaning "land of turkey." And the French word for the bird, "dinde," closely resembles "d'Inde," meaning "from India."

Find that hard to gobble? There's more: Casale explains that in Arabic the word for turkey is "Ethiopian bird," while in Greek it is "gallapoula" or "French chicken."

So ... if the bird is called "turkey" in America, and "hindi" in Turkey, what's it called in India??

Oh never mind. Dig in ... or as we say here in Paris: "À la bouffe!"

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