[Sca-cooks] Swan recipes

JIMCHEVAL at aol.com JIMCHEVAL at aol.com
Mon Jan 21 17:11:44 PST 2013

While you're at it, perhaps you'd like to include two from Anthimus' 6th  
century De Observatione Ciborum (my translation).

The recipe for peacock  is listed under "domestic birds" (and so the bird 
typically was, even if it  seems like a game bird to us). Anthimus was 
writing a dietetic, not a recipe  book, so if he left out anything like putting 
the feathers back on, it may be  because that didn't affect the bird's 
nutritional impact. Still his instructions  seem to assume a bird being cooked much 
like any other (even though the Romans  did sometimes dress it in its 

"Of peacocks, if there are any,  the best are the oldest, killed five to 
six days before, and well caprientur  those which have such meat, and put them 
in wine or boil each in its own juices,  so that for those who like it put 
a moderate amount of honey and pepper in the  juices, after they have been 
cooked. Younger or tender peacocks should be killed  a day or two before."

"Caprientur" might mean marinate or hang, but since  scholars better than I 
have yet to resolve the issue, I left it as is. Either  way this works 
nicely enough with turkey. Probably would work for swan, too,  since later 
medieval texts often pair them (though one version of the Viandier  says swan 
would be the second course, but peacock the last).

Under "wild  birds", one finds this for partridge:

"Partridges are good, especially  their breasts. Boiled but not roasted. 
Moreover, they are suitable for those who  suffer from fluxes of the stomach 
or dysentery, and they are good boiled in pure  water without any seasoning. 
And if possible, put neither salt nor oil on them,  only a bundle of 
coriander [that is, for us, cilantro], and cook them with this.  Eat only the 
breast, if possible without salt; otherwise dip it in  salt."

No swans, but then no geese either. In general he says, "birds  well cooked 
in their juices are suitable and, if steamed as soon as they are  killed, 
yet well cooked, and also carefully roasted some distance from the  hearth, 
fit." (Note that this breaks down into three methods: in their juices,  
steamed - a Roman but not late medieval method - or roasted at a distance from  
the fire.)

I just saw today that one Gallo-Roman dig found remnants of an  owl that 
apparently had been eaten; never seen a recipe for THAT.

Jim  Chevallier

Newly translated from Pierre Jean-Baptiste  Le Grand d'Aussy:
Eggs, Cheese and Butter in Old Regime France 

In a  message dated 1/21/2013 4:34:20 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,  
StefanliRous at austin.rr.com writes:

And thank you for the additional swan  recipe. That was one I didn't have 
and I will add it to the exotic-measts-msg  file in its next update. 

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