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Turkeys-a-GB-art - 12/14/05


"On Turkeys and Great Birds" by Johnnae llyn Lewis.


NOTE: See also the files: turkeys-msg, stufed-pltry-msg, birds-recipes-msg, chicken-msg, duck-goose-msg, Gos-Farced-art, Ital-Stuffing-art, Sugar-Icing-art.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set

of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


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Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be

reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first

or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


                               Thank you,

                                    Mark S. Harris

                                    AKA:  Stefan li Rous

                                         stefan at florilegium.org



[NOTE – This article was first published in the November 2005 issue of the Pale, the Newsletter of the Midrealm.]


On Turkeys and Great Birds

by THL Johnnae llyn Lewis, CE


            It’s November, and every newspaper and many television programs will soon turn its attention to the bird that makes it Thanksgiving in America. That is, of course, the turkey. The USDA estimates that 264 million turkeys were raised in the USA in 2004. That’s almost one bird for every person in the country.


            The question arises often as to how appropriate turkeys are for serving at Society feasts. While some advocate banning turkeys from our tables, there is no question that turkeys were eaten at feasts in the 16th century. Spain was recording that the birds were being imported there as early as 1511 from the newly discovered lands of the Americas. We are in luck this year as Sabine Eiche’s wonderful new book Presenting the Turkey has at last made its way to the United States. Sabine does a marvelous job of tying together the culinary history of the turkey with its early 16th century appearances in literature and the arts. The book includes sculptures, woodcuts, tapestries, frescos, and manuscript illustrations that feature turkeys. The Antique Collectors' Club is distributing the book in the US, so no longer does a person have import the book directly from Italy in order to see a copy.


            For pre-1500 medieval feasts the turkey is often used to replace the “great” birds of old that are no longer available. The best examination of these birds may be found in Joop Witteveen’s series in Petits Propos Culinaires. These great birds (cranes, herons, swans) are not generally available to be served these days. The fourth of Witteveen’s great birds, the peacock, is only occasionally served as a subtlety at Society feasts today. Truth in advertising dictates that Society feasts should state that turkey is being served and not try to list “swan or crane” on the menu and then serve turkey. Turkey is turkey, and it’s appropriate.


Witteveen, Joop. “On Swans, Cranes, and Herons,” 1986-87. Parts 1-3 in PPC, 24, 25, 26.


Witteveen, Joop.“The Great Birds, Part 4: Peacocks in History,” 1989, PPC 32.


Witteveen, Joop. “The Great Birds, Part 5: The Preparation of the Peacock for the Table,” 1990, PPC 36.


Eiche, Sabine. Presenting the Turkey. The Fabulous Story of a Flamboyant and Flavourful Bird. Florence, Italy: Centro Di, 2004. Distributed in the USA by the Antique Collectors' Club Ltd. ISBN No: 8870384144.  http://www.antique-acc.com/ACCUS/acatalog/ACCUS_Centro_Di_214.html


For circa 1580 turkey recipes by Marxen Rumpolt and a woodcut of a turkey, see Mistress Gwencat’s pages at: http://clem.mscd.edu/~grasse/GK_ASsp99_turkeypix.htm





Copyright 2005 by Johnna H. Holloway. <Johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in

the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also

appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being

reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org