This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
"A dinner was given one day not long ago to WiUiam M. Evarts, the American lawyer, who is a great epicure. One of the courses, roast stuffed goose, seemed especially to please the palate of the learned gentleman, and he lent himself thereto with much vigor. After dinner came speeches, and in the course of.one of them a gentleman asked this conundrum: 'What great change has taken place during this dinner?' It was given up. He had to answer his own conundrum - 'When we began, we' had a goose stuffed with sage; now we have finished, we have a sage stuffed with goose.
" Sage and onions are the traditional concomitants of the seasoning. It is that which Queen Elizabeth favored when she made a goose at Michaelmas, the fashionable dish of her age, and a national dish for many ages to come. It was sage and onions Old Dr. Parr of 'Life Pill' fame delighted to revel in. It was the savory smell that made him squeeze his friend's hand (when he descended to the vicar's modest parlor after changing his rain-besoaked clothing and awaiting dinner), as he exclaimed: ' How kind of you, my dear friend, when you know I'm tho fond of roath goothe,' and it was only the poor doctor's horse-hair wig and some onion peelings behind the fire. The dinner was shoulder of mutton and onion sauce".
"A plump little green-goose is considered by epicures to be the daintiest of morsels; but the young stubble or autumn goose of 5 or 6 months old is most appreciated by the general public and the caterer. Its flavor is more developed, there is more of it to carve at, it is not so strong as its elder brethren either in flavor or sinew." Green-goose is in season from April till July, or until it is 3 months old. In preparing it for roasting, it is generally dipped in boiling water, which has the effect of opening the pores of the skin, and permitting the removal of the feathers without breaking it. The bird is then drawn and prepared for roasting.
Is properly 5 to 7 months old. It is picked in the usual way that all poultry are relieved of their feathers. The head is removed, leaving the neck attached to it, and so cut that about 2 inches of the skin that covers the neck is left on the body. The bird is emptied in the usual way, and the feet cut off. It is then wiped out. Green-geese should not be stuffed. Stubble-geese may be, especially when they are served as " Michaelmas-geese".
" Madame Guiccioli said of Byron, that he insisted upon keeping up old customs in small things, such as having hot cross buns on Good Friday and roast goose on Michaelmas Day. This last fancy led to a grotesque result. After buying a goose and fearing it might be too lean, he fed it every day for a month previously, so that the poet and the bird became so mutually attached that when September 29 arrived he could not kill it, but bought another, and had the pet goose swung in a cage under his carriage when he traveled, so that after four years he was moving about with four geese.