A Birders’ Dismay or Why There Ain’t No Birds in Europe No More

Several of your  Fairway people have been serious birders for most of their lives.  We have long been aware that Europe, except as a fly-over for migratory birds, has become less and less a home for birds — songbirds, water birds, birds of prey – all manner of birds.  The skies, the trees, the shorelines – all of Europe’s once bird-blessed stamping grounds have fallen silent, and we have dreaded trying to understand why because it cannot be other than frightfully depressing information.

Here is a recipe swiped from some dusty old book written by some forgotten  and long dead minor writer.  It was the scandalous and great Norman Douglas who chose to lift and translate from French to Italian this remarkable bit of 1814 gastronomic antiquity.  It was published in his wonderful recipe book, the last book he wrote, in fact, VENUS IN THE KITCHEN (Il Libro Della Cucina Erotica), with illustrations from paintings by his friend DH Lawrence.  Norman Douglas lived on the island of Capri, in the Bay of Naples, most of his life (1868-1952).

AN INCOMPARABLE ROAST

Take a large olive, stone it and stuff it with a paste made of anchovy, capers and olive oil.

Put the olive inside a trussed and boned bec-figue (garden warbler).

Put the bec-figue inside a fat ortolan.

Put the ortolan inside a boned lark.

Put the stuffed lark inside a boned thrush.

Put the thrush inside a fat quail.

Put the quail, wrapped in vine-leaves, inside a boned lapwing.

Put the lapwing inside a boned golden plover.

Put the plover inside a fat, boned, red-legged partridge.

Put the partridge inside a young, boned, and well-hung woodcock.

Put the woodcock, rolled  in bread-crumbs, inside a boned teal.

Put the teal inside a boned guinea-fowl.

Put the guinea-fowl, well larded, inside a young and boned tame duck.

Put the duck inside a boned and fat fowl.

Put the fowl inside a well-hung pheasant.

Put the pheasant inside a boned and fat wild goose.

Put the goose inside a fine turkey.

Put the turkey inside a boned bustard.

Having arranged your roast after this fashion, place it in a saucepan of proper size with onions stuffed with cloves, carrots, small squares of ham, celery, mignonette, several strips of bacon well seasoned, pepper, salt, spice, coriander seeds, and two cloves of garlic.

Seal the saucepan hermetically by closing it with pastry.  Then put it for ten hours over a gentle fire, and arrange it so that the heat penetrates evenly.  An oven moderately heated would suit better than the hearth.

Before serving, remove the pastry, put your roast on a hot dish after having removed the grease, if there is any, and serve.

It might be difficult to procure so varied an assortment of wild fowls anywhere at one and the same time; difficult, too, to find bustards in Europe nowadays; difficult, too, to stuff a bigger bird like the lapwing into a smaller one like the plover.  I observe with sorrow that the common partridge, one of the best of all game birds, is not represented in this aviary.

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