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WEAT PEOPLE EAT AT
Slowly but surely the traditional roast beef of old England is disappearing from tbeChristmns dinner tnbles oí Australians. Perhaps it is the climate; perhaps it is the stock tax; perhaps it is the fevc-tish desire for change, which is characteristic of the end of the century; but the fact remains that, though ronst beef still lakes it jrt.ice nt the end of the tnblc in the bouses of a certain number of good old-fnsliioncd Britishers in Victorin, the vast bulk of the population incline to potdtrj-. "It's this waey," said the manager of the poultry de paitment of the Mutual Store, which docs in very largo Christmas business, "People who eat beef and mutton all the j'cnr round make up their minds to go in for poultry of some kind when Christmas comes round, and, according to their mentis or the size of their families, they oboose turkeys, geese,
ducks, ar chickens." . I When one hears that the demand for poultry of every kind is fully 1,000 per cent, in Christmas week above the demand in any other week in the year, one wonders how the Bupply is obtained, and here again the expert is able to let in some light. AAlieu practically every family in Melbourne "who can afford a Christmas dinner demands a turkey, a goose, a pair of ducks, or ii pair of chickens to be delivered on Christmas morning ready for the pot, the purveyors have an anxious lime of it, but experience has taught them to take time by the fore- lock. Immediately oiler the Melbourne Cup is run, tho wily purveyor begins col- lecting his birds for Christmas, and a good crate of turkej'S'is never allowed to jiasà in the open market. Turkeys, however, are apt lo.pine, and refuse food when taken from their unlive feeding grounds, and the greatest caro has to bo expended upon them, bul ducks and geese, on .the other hand, will live almost anywliei'ç,' their intellectual and introspective plane being apparently much lower than that of the turkey. The turkey, prescient of evil,' Bullet« pangs of home-sickness, which frequently nccelcrnte his fate; while the cheerful ducks and geese enjoy a longer life, undisturbed by any qualms of fal uro trouble, and grow fal al-
most without an effort.
Turkeys average about 15/0 apiece thiB Christmas, and it is not surprising to learn that ducks, geese, mid chickens, at a more accessible price, are eagerly bought up by the public. But with tuikey it is of course necessary lo have bacon, and besides a good piece of bacon is alvvaj's a capital stoiKl-by for the careful housewife. Ballarat is a great bacon producing district, mid noble Hitches, all duly Btnmped willi the natue of the city, hang on beams round the poultry depart- ment. The value of good bacon, especially when combined judiciously with fried eggs, is well understood by all who have had ex- perience of the temporary absence of the bulclier, and the bacon which makes its appeatance alongside of the Lui key on the dinner-table at Christinas may appear at n matinee next day with undiniiuisbcd biic cesB, and may continue lo appear for a short Bcuson afterwards, until the curtain is at last lung down upon its briel but savoury career. The mention of bacon leads easily and naturally lo ham, ami. lunns, both English and Australian, arc very much in evidence'just now. Even the ''made in Germany" article is pot altogether absent, and the country which sends us such a laigo supply of cutlery ulso sends us sonic very succulent articles of diet lo try the steel upon. West- phalia hums ate noted nil over the World, and nre consumed freely at this time of .vear; but the genuine Yorkshire'ham holds the undoubted, supremacy in epilo of its higher price, arid is in great demand. Aus
tialioti hains come in for a fair share of attention, and their excellent qunlitj', coupled willi the fact that they are from 4d. ta 5d. per lb. cheaper than the English mticlc, makes them very acceptable- to llioso who have many mouths lo fill.
The generalisations of the manager of the department, based upon close observation, are decidedly encouraging. TntkeyB, .ducks, geese, hams, and bacon are in a way fairly trustwoithy bnrometers of the nntionnl prosperity. AVith a 'revival in trade the tiukoy's chances of "a long life ure diminished, and the' appetising pig ap- proaches with greater tapidity to Hie beatific existence ivhicli" Charles Lamb BO happily dcsciibcs in his immortal essay on "Roast Pig." It is noted this year that the demand both for poultry and for hain
and bacon is brisker and more general than last year, and that a better quality ot article is purchased, in which grntitying manifestation the political economist _inay lcjoice ns fei-vcntly as the jirofcBsionnl gourmet. Enormous quantities of smoked tongues and similar goods uro also taken by the vast exodus of picnickers.
A representative of a well-known butcher- ing firm explnins that the demand for butchers' nient shows no appreciable in- crease ni Christmas, owing miijnly to the fact that poultry is preferred l,y the great majority of consumers; Suet for plum- pudding!!, however, is a strong order, and the butchers are hard put to it lo meet the demand. The suet Í3 carefully looked after,
even beforo Christmas week, and when
placed in the useful "freezer" comes out in excellent condition, and readv' to form the basis of the glutinous mass, without which no self-respecting Anglo-Saxon would consider his dinner complete. A decidedly gloomy view is taken by some butchers of the dead-meat trade, and the complaint is
expressed that, owing to the poor season, no I primo cuttle arc coming forward, except from pnrts of Gippsland, nnd oven in this favoured qunrter the supply is very short.
A description of what people cat nt Christians would hardly be complete xvjUi otit n vvoid or two about the beverages with which the food 13 chiefly washed down, and
n chat wa'tli Mr. G.artley, who manages the I wine nnd spirit department of the Mutual Store, shows that, in spite of the efforts of the temperance party, there is still a strong demand for alcoholic liquors. Locallj' btewed Inger bier, says Mr. Gortley, is gradually ousting tho German article from public favour, which is hardly to be won- dered at, seeing thal the locally-made beer is about 100 per cent, cheaper than the im- ported beverage, while it is BO palatable and so attractively bottled that the consumer who once tries it generally comes back for more. "Tile demand for champagne ia not ns great ns it was," saj's Sir. Gartley with a meaning laugh, but good light Victorian claretB ahd 'white wines are increasingly in favour, nnd the demand for Scotch whisky in as strong ns ever." Mr. Gortley can almost tell what season of the year it is by Ids weekly sales. At the present season the demand for lemonade, gtngeralo, rasp- berry vinegar, and "soft stuifs" generally is abnormally Inrge. Thnt is to meet the I requirements of the j'oungaters who ore home for the holidays.; But the elders often aro led into indulgence in the same class of beverages, mid then, nccording to Mr. Gartlej', thoy regrctit. "We have a great demand for brandy immediately after Christmns," says the nuinager with a laugh -"purelyfor medicinql purposes, of course." But that in a natural consequeuce of "what people cat at Christmas."