Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dainties Loved By Gourmets


Feathered Product of Certain Places Highly Prized by Epicures.

Among specialties regarding birds may be mentioned the capon of Surrey and Sussex and the turkey and geese of Norfolk and Suffolk. Passing through Essex, one may see whole "herds" of geese and ducks in the fields there fattening without thought of the future. Most of these birds, writes Dr. Doran, are "foreigners." They are Irish by birth, but they are brought over by steam, in order to be perfected by an English education, and when the due state of perfection has been attained they are transferred to London.

Dunstable larks are a dainty much coveted by epicures, and London is annually supplied from the country about Dunstable alone with not fewer than 4,000 dozen. But the enthusiasm with which the gourmets speak of those birds is far exceeded by the Germans, who travel many hundred miles to Leipsic merely to eat a dinner of larks. Such is the slaughter of larks at the Leipsic fair that as many as half a million are annually eaten, principally by the booksellers frequenting that city.

Whittlesey mere, in Huntingdonshire, now drained, once produced the finest ruffs and reeves, a delicacy of which Prince Talleyrand was extremely fond, his regular allowance during the season being two a day. An amusing anecdote is told of a young curate who had come up to be examined for priest's orders and was asked to dinner at Bishopthorpe by Archbishop Markham. Out of modesty he confined himself exclusively to the dish before him till one of the resident dignitaries observed him. But it was too late. The ruffs and reeves had vanished to a bird.

A similar tale has been told of another delicate morsel, the wheatear, popularly designated "the English ortolan." A Scotch officer was dining with a certain Lord George Lennox, then commandant at Portsmouth, and was placed near a dish of wheatears, which was rapidly disappearing under his repeated attentions to it. Lady Louisa Lennox tried to divert his notice to another dish, but "Na, na, mileddy," was the reply. "These wee birdie will do verra weel." — Exchange.

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