So just what are ‘all the trimmings’ anyway?

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WHEN did the phrase “turkey and all the trimmings” originate?

My feeling is that is a relatively recent innovation, although no doubt there will be a reader able to recall his 1920s boyhood, when “turkey and all t’trimmings” were an annual treat at Gaukroger Street Board School; and another will claim that during the Christmas festivities of 1544 Henry VIII was served “a dish of turkeys with all ye trimmings”…

What is certain is that the formula “turkey and all the trimmings” is becoming more ubiquitous. I have continually encountered it on menus in the last couple of weeks.

And it is a phrase that begs a question. What are “the trimmings” and how do we know when we have been served all of them?

I suspect that we all have our own concept of this. For me, “all the trimmings” – in no particular order– are roast potatoes, stuffing, bread sauce, sprouts, gravy, devils on horseback (i.e. little sausages wrapped in bacon) and carrots. Then there are kind of honorary trimmings such as roast parsnip and mashed potato. Others will nominate cranberry sauce and maybe chipolatas.

But it must be said that two “turkey and all the trimmings” lunches I have had in recent days have interpreted the phrase rather liberally. There were trimmings, certainly, but not all of them.

If I had more moral fibre, I would have summoned the manager. ”Look here, my man! When I order turkey and all the trimmings I expect bread sauce and stuffing balls to be included, and I certainly expect more than one roast potato!”

But the problem is that “the trimmings” have yet to be standardised. And this is a job for Brussels (fill in your own sprouts joke here).

I do hope that we do not distance ourselves too much from the EU, Mr Cameron, because we need a panel of Eurocrats to lay down – as European Food Directive 12002 (b) maybe – exactly what constitutes “the trimmings”.

If they start work now, we could have EU-wide legislation in place by 2015. And then they can move on to the big one.

What exactly DOES constitute a Full English Breakfast?