With Thanksgiving approaching, here’s an interesting tidbit from the Today I Found Out newsletter: “In the sixteenth century, when North American turkeys were first introduced en masse to Europe, there was another bird that was popularly imported throughout Europe and, most relevant to this article, England, called a guinea fowl. This guinea fowl was imported from Madagascar via the Ottoman Empire.

“The merchants who imported the guinea fowl were thus known as ‘turkey merchants.’ The guinea fowl eventually were popularly referred to as ‘turkey fowl,’ similar to how other product imported through the Ottoman Empire acquired their names, such as ‘turkey corn,’ ‘turkey wheat, etc.

“The North American turkey was first introduced to Spain in the very early sixteenth century and popularly introduced to all of Europe shortly thereafter. The animal was thought by many to be a species of the type of guinea fowl that was imported via the Ottoman Empire and thus, began also being called a ‘turkey fowl’ in English, with this eventually being shortened to just ‘turkey.'”


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