Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rooks on the menu (briefly)

"Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye,
Four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,

And was not that a dainty dish to set before the king?"

The Taverners pub, eating house, and shop in Godshill on the Isle of Wight made a bit of news overnight. Unlike the nursery rhyme reprinted and illustrated above, they were not blackbirds but rooks, and they were not baked in a pie* but served in a salad. Nevertheless, over 2 days, patrons feasted on local wild game of the avian variety. The pub had purchased 30 portions of rook meat from a local wholesaler, who in turn had obtained it from a 45-year-old hunter on the island's northeast coastal town of Ryde. By the time the Taverners was asked to stop selling the wild bird meat by the Hampshire police - who had arrested the hunter on suspicion of violating the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act,** it had all been hungrily and appreciatively gobbled up. Manager Roger Serjant said the dish had proved very popular, and explained, "We are big on local food and look for old English, old fashioned recipes. From our part, they were bought in good faith. Obviously we won't be selling it again." Customers will have to make do with the wild venison; island-raised lamb, pork, or veal; or local skate or salmon. Since I couldn't find Audubon's opinion of the flavor of rook, and don't want to assume it "tastes like chicken," I am hoping to get a response from someone at The Taverners...

*The 2nd image is another of their menu items, not rook pie!
**According to the news article, under a license a hunter may eat the birds he or she bags, but is only allowed to sell the meat of the wood pigeon.

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