April 26th, 2009

Ratatouille: Rat-Patootie

The Exceedingly Proper Serving of Fowl

Sure, most people know how to cut up a turkey. But have you ever carved a duck? Well, you shouldn't have! You're supposed to "unbrace" a duck.

Specialized terms for cooking go way back in English as a mark of how the server's profession was established. The understanding of such jargon was part of the mark of proper nobility and servitors. Food was very important and such specialized language called attention to it.

So what do we need to know?

  • One spoils a hen
  • One frusts a chicken
  • One sauces a capon (and if you think those three are all pretty much the same creature, they are but you must be proper and distinguish!)
  • One unbraces a duck
  • One rears a goose
  • One lifts a swan
  • One displays a crane
  • One disfigures a peacock
  • One allays a pheasant

And those are just the common birds one might serve! Consult the original text, the 1685 manual "The Accomplisht Cook" (about halfway down), for a complete guide on how to accomplish, and speak of, such things. There'll be a quiz tomorrow. ;)