[Sca-cooks] Game for Your Feast

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Wed Mar 2 17:34:39 PST 2011

You're looking at the present range, not what their range was pre-1600.  The 
great bustard's European range extended from England across Southern Europe 
and into Central and Northern Europe.  They are extinct in England, Sweden, 
Switzerland and Poland.  There is still a breeding population in Russia and 
Hungary.  It was more common than you assume.

Almost all other large birds were taken by hunting, while turkeys, like 
geese, chickens and guinea fowl could be farm raised.  Besides tasting 
better than other large birds, turkeys cost less.  For Catherine de Medici's 
feast of 1549, turkey hens cost 20 sols, turkey cocks cost 30 sols, bustards 
cost 70 sols, and swans cost 100 sols.  The sol or sou is 1/20 of a livre.


> Yes, sorry, I think I am. My apologies. That's one of the reasons for the 
> Florilegium, to augment my sometimes poor memory. I wasn't sure if they 
> were extinct or not, but this article says they aren't extinct, but 
> endangered, like so many other creatures. It also shows another reason for 
> the turkey to have quickly replaced them. The bustard's area covers only a 
> small area of Europe, mostly the Iberian peninsula, so even assuming a 
> larger area in medieval times, it probably wasn't that common. So 
> domesticated turkeys would have easily become more common.
> It also sounds like a domesticated turkey would be much easier to raise 
> than swans or geese or other large birds.
> Stefan

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