Birds and Eggs
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Historical rabbit holes, for those who are inclined.
These slender booklets from Historical Management Associates are the work of an organization dedicated to historical re-enactment in the UK. They are written with a stickler’s attention to historical precision and a conviction that nothing is too arcane to investigate. Some of the books are simple transcriptions of period manuscripts; others represent significant original research, as in Cattle Farming and Grazing Management, which is 52 pages long but cites 36 sources, many of them published in the 17th century.
The Food and Cookery in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England series presents a systematic survey of existing records of ingredients and equipment employed in the period. In addition to concise explanations of how such items might have been used and how they might have been significantly different from what is implied by current terminology, they include citations from various period and later records to demonstrate the geographic and class distribution of everything from hops to decorative tankards.
From the introduction: “This volume seeks to identify the species of birds being consumed and their nature, importance and seasonality. an enormous range of birds were eaten. The Earl of Northumberland purchased between the 9th of September 1585 and the 5th of March 1586 ‘…goose, capon, …, chickens, pigeons, mallards, shovellers, hearons, curlews, pheasants, woodcocks, snypes, teal, pewetts, partridge, plover, quayles, larkes, small birds and such likes’. Three English paintings show birds used for culinary purposes. As well as domestic hens, geese and turkeys they include mallard, quail, pheasant, grey legged partridge, feral and wood pigeons, mute swan, heron, great bustard, red grouse, snipe, pintail, woodcock, starling, widgeon, jay, sky lark, fildfare, nuthatch, wheatear, bullfinch, chaffinch, great tit, robin and yellowhammer.” That’s a lot of birds.
Staplebound pamphlet. 64 pages. Sketches and black-and-white photographs.