|Male Pheasant Displaying|
Photo from: Oliver Wright
OCast faysan, fausan, L Phasianidae colchicus, MEng pertryche, fesaunte, Eng. pheasant. It originated in Asia. Westeners discovered it at Phazisi (Poti, Georgia), a major trading center, on the Phasis River (Roini), the Paliastomi Lake and the Ponto Sea (Black Sea). The town was a major silk trade center that received caravans from North Caucasus, Iran, India and the Far East.
Between the 6th-8th C B.C. Greeks founded a settlement there. According to legend, Jason and his Argonauts traveled to the port, stole the Golden Fleece and a bird from the area. In Elada, the bird was bred and named after the town of Phazisi.
From there it made its way into the rest of Europe via Italy. During the Middle Ages, Spain was known for the abundance of pheasants in the royal forests. As courtesans considered them the most delicate and tasty of all birds, they were thought to have been manna of the gods.
Villena states that it should be carved in the same way as the peacock. Pheasant was served during the first course of Henry IV of England’s coronation banquet. It is recommended for a light diet in the Leechbook in a recipe called “Wildahænna”.
In spite of all the praises for the bird, no Spanish medieval manuscript appears to have a recipe for pheasant.
[Curye. 1985:40; Drummond. 1964:57; ES: Port. Sep 4, 03; Jutglar. 1999:215-216; and Villena/Calero. 2002:22b:26a]