Baked in a pie!
Photo from: Amy
L. Turdus merula, MEng. osel, ousel, Eng blackbird. In England the blackbird was the most expensive of small birds served in feasts and eaten by upper classes. "Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie" was not a nursery rhyme in the Middle Ages. Such pies were made throughout Europe. A huge empty pie shell was baked. Prior to serving it, small birds were inserted. When brought to the hall a knife was inserted to carve it. Then a flock of live birds flew out to the amusement of the guests. Dwarfs, too, might be 'temporarily incrusted.'
Male blackbirds are fascinating to watch in the spring. They mark their territory telling others of their species to stay away. They do not fight but rush and threaten each other. It is a battle of nerves until one of the rival’s backs off leaving an area with a food supply and a nest for the bird to provide all the female needs for reproduction.
The blackbird is the best imitator of songs in the European bird world. It has the richest melody and harmony. It lives all over Spain and England. Recipes for cooking blackbirds were not necessary from medieval times. Cooks over the centuries simply pop them into the frying pan. [Black. Food. 1986:11; ES: “Blackbird.” Nov 2, 03; ES: Oliver. Nov 4, 03; ES: Plana. “Mirlo.” Nov 3, 2003; Groundes-Peace. 1971: 118; and Sass. 1975:54]