Dan Jurafsky on the confused history of the word “turkey:”
[T]he turkey acquired its name through a confusion with the guinea fowl. Guinea fowl were re-introduced into Europe from Ethiopia through Mamluk Egypt, and one of their names was “turkey cock” or “poule d’Inde” in various languages as a result. Turkeys arrived slightly later, and were confused with guinea fowl because of their physical similarity, because they were brought to Europe on the same Portuguese ships, because of the Portuguese traders branding everything as an Indian or “Calicut” product, and perhaps because of Portuguese paranoia about keeping secret the details of their overseas discoveries.
Another reason for the confusion was the secretive nature of the Portugese government at the time. Unlike the Spanish, who allowed Columbus to publicize his discoveries, the Portuguese government would allow nothing to be published about its discoveries; producing a map of exploration was illegal.
Suddenly turkey dinner becomes exotic and delicious.