Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Swan-Upping is Just Three Weeks Away

Rob's first post is coming soon. He found the internet but then couldn't tear himself away from all the amazing things he found there. Like pictures of waterskiing squirrels.

Meanwhile, the saw is sharp and ready to go to Big Swan Creek.

Note to cooks: Swan is a legitimate game bird for cooking - once a royal delicacy, it now just has a royal price.

Procurator-Fiscal: better raise dues for this trip.

Swan Meat - 9 to 12 Month Bird
Item# newitem30910414
Regular Price: $1,499.99
Sale Price: $999.99

Raised in USA. Processed Birds can be delivered in California, USA. Outside CA the bird will be shipped live.

Swan meat was a gourmet dish often seen as the magnificent centrepiece for a medieval banquet. But since those times, when all swans were assigned royal status, it is a dish almost exclusively enjoyed by royals.

The mute swan has been a royal bird since at least 1186 and was formally assigned royal status in the Act of Swans in 1482. Under the act, any other owners of swans were required to mark their property by way of a succession of nicks in the birds’ beaks. It was the duty of the Royal Swanmaster to organise the annual swan-upping on the Thames, when the cygnets are rounded up and marked, which survives in symbolic form to this day.

With their royal rank, it became a status symbol to eat swan. It was a tasty ceremonial dish, until superseded by turkey early last century.

Today, the Queen still has ownership of all swans in the UK except in one small corner of the British Isles - the Orkney Isles. Under Udal Law, the ancient Norse system of inheritance and law, which the Viking settlers brought to Orkney, the swan is the property of the people, rather than the Crown. The case was proven in 1910 by a Kirkwall lawyer who, accompanied by his friend, the Procurator-Fiscal, went out to Harray Loch and shot a swan. The case went to the High Court and the Crown lost. Nowadays, Orcadians do not shoot swans, but the principles of the old Norse Udal Law still stand. The swan is protected across the entire Great Britain by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Our Swans are raised in County of Riverside, California, USA.

Here's the Royal Recipe:

For to dihyte a swan. Tak & vndo hym & wasch hym, & do on a spite & enarme hym fayre & roste hym wel; & dysmembre hym on þe beste manere & mak a fayre chyne, & þe sauce þerto schal be mad in þis manere, & it is clept.

Tak þe issu of þe swan & wasch it wel, & scoure þe guttes wel with salt, & seth þe issu al togedere til it be ynow, & þan tak it vp and wasch it wel & hew it smal, & tak bred & poudere of gyngere & of galyngale & grynde togedere & tempere it with þe broth, & coloure it with þe blood. And when it is ysothe & ygrounde & streyned, salte it, & boyle it wel togydere in a postnet & sesen it with a litel vynegre.

Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). New York: for The Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985.

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