[Sca-cooks] Game for Your Feast

Alexander Clark alexbclark at pennswoods.net
Tue Mar 1 16:02:21 PST 2011

On Tue, 1 Mar 2011 11:31:05 -0500, Sam Wallace <guillaumedep at gmail.com> wrote:
> I have started work on a compilation project. I am pulling recipes for
> game, birds and fish from various medieval works and putting them
> together on one site. Obviously, any work used in this other than my
> own will be used with permission and credit. You are invited to see my
> (very rough) first draft here:
> (http://talisman.clift.org/sam/sca/gamecookbook/). I welcome any
> feedback.
> Working on this project led me to review what I have served and seen
> served of these foods within the context of the SCA. I was curious as
> to how often game, wild birds, or fish are served at events in the
> respective kingdoms of members of this list. What have you served or
> seen served? How typical is it to have game or seafood at feast? From
> where are your experiences in this drawn?
> I have served boar (domestic, but served as a wild boar), game birds,
> quail, venison, shrimp, frog legs, crayfish, oysters, and salmon. I
> have also served turkey, duck and rabbit, all of which were typically
> or were often domestic animals when served in medieval Europe but are
> often hunted in the modern US.
> I do not recall much beyond an occasional bit of fish (trout or
> salmon) at other events in this kingdom (Meridies). Sadly, the folks
> who prepare these often do not get much of a review as the majority of
> folks in this area seem to be fish-averse.

I'm happy to see that someone's working on this. Game tends to be one
area where our feasts are conspicuously deficient. BTW, have you
looked into sources for ingredients? I've found from shopping around
that some kinds of game birds and beasts (even some that are wild
caught) are available from farms or by web/mail order. There are more
than a few "elk" farms where you can buy wapiti/American elk (Cervus
canadensis, formerly known as C. elaphus/red deer), and there are
several businesses selling wild boar/feral swine on the web.

I especially recommend wild boar/feral swine, as it is an invasive
species and a serious pest, and it is also relatively easy (due to its
size) to arrange to have the slaughter of each individual animal
inspected and approved. Eat 'em up, serves 'em right! :-) Boar often
appears in period menus and recipes as "brawn" or "singler". (But
"brawn" is also used to refer to flesh of other species too, in which
case the species will be named.)

I've also read of feral pigeons being caught and sold as "barn birds".
This might be a good deal, as the prices I've seen for farmed pigeon
are pretty high.

BTW, one little quibble: I doubt that turkey was served in the middle
ages. Maybe in the Renaissance, certainly thereafter, but I think not

In answer to the question of what I've served: I've recently served
farmed venison (wapiti) at two feasts, twice as venison with furmenty,
and once as larded roast venison with pevorat. I was going to serve
brawn (boar) at the second one (the Feast of Candlemas last month, at
which I was the chief cook), but it was one of several things that
fell through on the day of the event. Small loss, since there was
freezing rain and only a few people showed up. I served it at a cook's
guild gathering the next day. At the Feast of Candlemas I also served
minced pigeon (squab, to be precise) and salmon roasted in sauce
(that's period grammar, it's roasted and then sauced), and poached
whole flounder in green sauce for lunch. I had previously served the
same salmon recipe, two years before at our Imbolc event, for lunch,
and that time the weather was decent so I got to grill it with

>From my study of medieval English menus, I can offer a short list of
game animals, or animals that we might think of as game, that were
often served in flesh-day feasts. The ones that I find most often in
the menus, in approximate order by how many menus they appear in, are:

Swan (Cygnus olor)
Venison (most occurrences could be either red deer (Cervus elaphus),
fallow deer (Dama dama), or roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)
Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) (historically domestic, now feral in
many regions)
Coney (mature rabbit)
Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
Partridge (Perdix perdix)
Boar (Sus scrofa)
Quail (Coturnix coturnix)
Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Pigeon (Columba livia) (historically domestic, now feral in many regions)
Lark (Alauda arvensis)
Pike (Esox lucius)

The binomial names are the ones that I am pretty sure are the species
that are most recognized in England, though I don't guarantee that all
of them are correct. There are a few I haven't looked up; I don't
expect to be using them any time soon.

The animals in at least the top half of this list are found in a large
fraction of the menus. I think boar would have been on one more, but
one of the menus is for the coronation of Richard III, and both boar
and domestic pig are conspicuously absent. :-/

Henry of Maldon/Alex Clark

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