[Sca-cooks] First Catch Your...dulse?

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Thu Jan 8 16:11:52 PST 2009

"First steal a chicken" shows up as a Hungarian joke.
Google books indicates for
Hungarian chicken fricassee or chicken paprikash.

It's suggested that it might be related to "don't catch your chickens
before they are hatched."

This probably relates to the phrase "First Catch Your Hare"
which The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs
  relates as:

*FIRST catch your hare* Commonly thought to originate in the recipe for
hare soup in Mrs Glasse's /Art of Cookery/ (1747) or in Mrs Beeton's
/Book of Household Management/ (1851), but not found there (see quot.
1896). Similar in sentiment to *CATCHING'S before hanging

Cf. /c/ 1300 Bracton /De Legibus Angliae/ IV. xxi.

/vulgariter dicitur/, /quod primo opportet cervum capere/, /& postea cum
captus fuerit illum excoriare/, it is commonly said that one must first
catch the deer, and afterwards, when he has been caught, skin him.

1801 /Spirit of Farmers' Museum/ 55 Search for “Spirit of Farmers'
How to dress a dolphin, first catch a dolphin.

1855 Thackeray /Rose & Ring/ xiv.
‘To seize wherever I should light upon him—’ ‘First catch your
hare!’..exclaimed his Royal Highness.

1896 /Daily News/ 20 July 8

The familiar words, ‘First catch your hare,’ were never to be found in
Mrs. Glasse's famous volume. What she really said was, ‘Take your hare
when it is cased [skinned].’

1984 ‘C. Aird’ /Harm's Way/ iii.

Sloan took his reply straight from the pages of an early cookery book.
..‘First, catch your hare.’

Prospect Books when they reprinted Mrs. Glasse titled it as
First Catch Your Hare: The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747)
By Hannah Glasse, Jennifer Stead, Priscilla Bain
Published by Prospect Books, 2004

Other sources indicate that it can be attributed to Dr. Kitchener.

The phrase turns up as titles in other books of cookery too.
First Catch Your Hare: A History of the Recipe-makers
By Mary Aylett, Olive Ordish
Published by Macdonald, 1965

First Catch Your Hare
By David Crystal
Illustrated by Peter Hay
Published by Two Rivers Press, 1999


Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius wrote:
> By the way, can anybody document that there actually is a printed 
> recipe that begins that way (the stolen chicken reference), and that 
> it isn't just some sort of xenophobic/racist urban legend promulgated 
> by some culture other than the one being spoken of?
> Adamantius

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