"There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration."

-- From "A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens

There isn't a more exciting time in my house than at Christmas dinner. Each year, I send my husband to fetch the goose while I tend to the chestnuts and plum pudding. My young son sets the table and everyone eagerly awaits the great golden goose to emerge from the glowing oven. Finally, when it is brought to the table, I plunge my carving knife into the breast and the dried fruit stuffing bursts forth, resulting in a resounding "Hurrah!" from everyone.

Just kidding.

That's the Crachit family. I've never cooked a goose in my life. But is there anything that says "Christmas dinner" more than goose? It's so Victorian/Dickensian, so picture-perfect, yet I've never known anyone who has served goose for Christmas. Why is that, I wondered? Clearly it was time for some answers.

My first thought was to look for local restaurants that might be serving goose on Christmas Eve or maybe even New Year's Eve. No such luck. Beef is definitely the entrée of choice. Time for Plan B.

After stopping at the Driftwood Café in Southport center for a quick bite one afternoon, I decided to visit the butcher next door at the Spic & Span Market (329 Pequot Ave., Southport; 203-259-1689).

Greg Peck turned out to be the man. "Sure, we have goose," he said, pointing to a sign of all the different meats the market offers. It was selling for $8.99 a pound, and most geese average about 10 to 12 pounds, he said. Spic & Span procures its geese from the Midwest.

"It's very traditional with some people," Peck said, although he noted that most people these days opt for rib roasts, beef tenderloin and turkey. "I have one guy who's come in for a goose every year for at least the past 25 years," said Peck.

In addition, he has another loyal customer: Charlie Miesmer, a Southport resident who loves to cook.

"My taste buds are always set off by mythic images of the past," said Miesmer. "If I could roast a deer, I would."

This past Thanksgiving, Miesmer cooked a goose and two turkeys, and said the goose was picked clean.

Peck said he believes that the popularity of the goose has decreased because people are so busy. "Goose takes more tending to," he said. "It's not as simple as turkey. You have to render the fat."

But the extra work is part of the fun for Miesmer. "I put tiny pin pricks on the skin so it becomes very self-basting," he said.

Because it is so rich and fatty, a bread-based stuffing isn't right for goose. Instead, Miesmer uses a blend of prunes, figs, dates, nuts and sometimes bacon. In the past, he's smoked geese in a big Texas smoker, and other times has cooked them in a convection oven and basted it with Grand Marnier. "I've probably brought a flock of geese from Greg," said Miesmer.

This year, he'll be preparing a goose on Christmas Eve, and "on Christmas Day," he said, "I'll be making probably the finest thing a man can eat: a standing rib roast. Sounds like I'm not going to make it to the next day, doesn't it?" he laughed.

Contact Patti Woods at eatdrinkshopcook@gmail.com.