[Sca-cooks] Large birds for feasts

Jennifer Carlson talana1 at hotmail.com
Fri Mar 4 07:24:30 PST 2011

I wonder what the time lag is between a food item's introduction and it's first recorded recipe.  Columbus observed turkeys on his 1502 voyage.  In 1511 King Ferdinand of Spain ordered every ship returning from the Indies to bring five male and five female turkeys, presumably for breeding stock.  There are records of prominent churchmen sending the birds as gifst and keeping private flocks in the 1520s and 30s.
A few years ago the Price Tower in Bartlesville, OK mounted an exhibition of bronzes by Giambologna (1529-1608), and one of the pieces was an amazing turkey.  He'd actually made the bird look noble.  (His boar was pretty amazing, too).  The statue had been commissioned by Cosimo di Medici in 1567, and it was apparently not the first art piece the Medici commissioned of a turkey - they ordered a turkey tapestry in 1545 and a grotto painting earlier than that.
So, you are seeing in correspondence and art the better part of a century of turkeys in Spain and Italy, but the first recipe appeared when?  And for how long after their introduction, some time between 1502 and 1522, were they novelty items and a luxury food before there were enough birds for a wider dissemination?  How long before cooks got enough experience working with turkeys to figure out the best ways to prepare, season, and serve them?
Just pondering,

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