Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Argus for the Christmas table.

      Next in importance to the boar's-head as a Christmas-dish came the peacock. To prepare Argus for the table was a task entailing no little trouble. The skin was first carefully stripped off, with the plumage adhering; the bird was then roasted; when done and partially cooled, it was sewed up again in its feathers, its beak gilt, and so sent to table. Sometimes the whole body was covered with leaf-gold, and a piece of cotton, saturated with spirits, placed in its beak, and lighted before the carver commenced operations. This 'food for lovers and meat for lords' was stuffed with spices and sweet herbs, basted with yolk of egg, and served with plenty of gravy; on great occasions, as many as three fat wethers being bruised to make enough for a single peacock.


      The noble bird was not served by common hands; that privilege was reserved for the lady-guests most distinguished by birth or beauty. One of them carried it into the dining-hall to the sound of music, the rest of the ladies following in due order. The bearer of the dish set it down before the master of the house or his most honoured guest. After a tournament, the victor in the lists was expected to shew his skill in cutting up inferior animals. On such occasions, however, the bird was usually served in a pie, at one end of which his plumed crest appeared above the crust, while at the other his tail was unfolded in all its glory. Over this splendid dish did the knights-errant swear to undertake any perilous enterprise that came in their way, and sucour lovely woman in distress after the most approved chevalier fashion. Hence Justice Shallow derived his oath of 'By cock and pie!' The latest instance of peacock-eating we can call to mind, is that of a dinner given to William IV. when Duke of Clarence, by the governor of Grenada; when his royal highness was astonished by the appearance of the many-hued bird, dressed in a manner that would have delighted a medieval de or Sober.
 Robert Chambers' Book of Days, 1869

The video is by Dave's Exotic Foods

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