Monday, November 25, 2013

How to Serve a Live Bird at a Feast, c. 1450

"Get a chicken or any other bird you want, and pluck it alive cleanly in hot water. Then get the yolks of 2 or 3 eggs; they should be beaten with powdered saffron and wheat flour, and distempered with fat broth or with the grease that drips under a roast into the dripping pan. By means of a feather glaze and paint your pullet carefully with this mixture so that its colour looks like roast meat. With this done, and when it is about to be served to the table, put the chicken's head under its wing, and turn it in your hands, rotating it until it is fast asleep. Then set it down on your platter with the other roast meat. When it is about to be carved it will wake up and make off down the table upsetting jugs, goblets and whatnot."  
The Vivendier (ca. 1450)
Is your Thanksgiving turkey routine getting dull? This year, don't roast the bird -- just denude, glaze, hypnotize, and serve. Your guests will never forget the dinner, and you'll never have to host again.

(I'd love to see the out-takes on this one.)


  1. If only I were savvy enough with live poultry! I'd love to spring this on the family...

  2. Dear Ask the Past,

    I'm a grad student currently going through exam period and trying to stay focused... I was just wondering if maybe you have some advice from the past that could help me on this ordeal.


    A desperate student.

  3. Oh, darn it, the cable's out and we won't be able to watch the football game. I better think of something to entertain these people today...