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Monday, April 24, 2017


Photo from: ronperkins
OCast perdis, L. Perdix perdix, Eng. partridge. It was a popular domesticated or game bird in England and Spain during the Middle Ages. Today, in Spain it is only found in the north, although breed in other parts for hunting. It still inhabits most of England.

It lives with and flies in flocks. English hunters wait for it to fly by but not in Spain. There, hunters go with “beaters” (men with sticks) to areas where the partridge is known to live under bushes. The “beaters” beat them out from the undergrowth and when they fly, the hunters shoot, killing as many as they can with each round.

Once deplumed, it is actually a small bird. Eaters on the average consume one partridge per person. During the Middle Ages, it was thought to be the best edible fowl after rosters, hens and francolins. It was consumed by Hispano-Arabs and the Jews who believed that partridges were an aphrodisiac product. Pounded or mashed partridge with boiled food or that coated with almonds appeared in the Hispano-Arab and Jewish kitchens, which leads one to believe that cookery encompassed the entire Al-Andalus culture. Christians, as pointed out by Villena, served partridge whole, except for the claws and wings. It was frowned upon to carve it for they thought tastier and more appetizing whole. See sisón.

It is interesting to note that of the Spanish medieval culinary manuscripts reviewed only the Anon 13th Century Al-Andalus manuscript contains recipes for partridge and both are Jewish[1].

Geronimo de Huerta in his annotations to Pliny’s Chapter XXXVII of Book 1- wrote: These birds are very beneficial for their use in medicine because the broth in which they have been cooked fortifies the stomach and removes pain from the liver.

It is a remedy for the ilium and jaundice and for this is drunk with red wine. For the ilium the ventricle is milled and mixed with red wine. The dry liver pulverized is drunk for epilepsy. Partridge is boiled with quince and the broth is drunk with fermented wine to cure chylific diarrhea.

The bile is a good remedy infused in the eyes and mixed with other compositions to clear the sight; another bile mixture takes away dark spots. Honey, opobalsam and fennel juice and all that surrounding the bile mixed it with a cup and half of opobalsam and stored in a tin or lead vial has been used to rub on the eyes. Reportedly, these eye drops are so powerful that if one goes blind it restores the sight. The eggs mixed with honey have been used to to clarify the sight and to accelerate birthing.

Stuffing the bird with almond paste
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Hot bile placed in the ears is suppose to cure deafness. The feathers are used for suffocations of the uterus or start menstruation. When burned in a rag, they emit a smell similar to this. The same together with wild cumin and burnt as perfume prevents apoplexy.

Eating partridge as food is supposed to move Venus to give plenty of milk. The egg shells burned and reduced to powder and mixed with sublimated oxide of zinc and wax makes the breasts firm.

Avenzoar maintained that the meat has a tendency toward dryness. If boiled first and then cooked, he advised, it is an astringent but if the broth is consumed before boiling it will loosen up the stomach.

 [Anón/Huici. 1966:102:70-71:106:73-74; Benavides-Barajas. Nueva-Clásica. 1995:
198; ES: Lord. Medieval. "Latón." Posted Feb 10, 15: ES: Lord. Medieval. "Mangarejos." Posted Feb 26, 16; Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:51; Jutglar. 1999:214; OXF Eng Dict. 1989:XI:Ow:279-280; Pers. Memories Pascualette. 1993; and Villena/Calero. 2002:22b:27a]



A Unique Way of Cooking Fowl
Photo by: Lord-Williams
1 chicken[2]
entrails from 1 chicken
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp water
1 onion ground into juice
1 tbsp cilantro
1 tsp salsa fina[3]
1 tsp murri[4]
½ c almonds
¼  c breadcrumbs
2 tbsp flour
2 raw eggs[5]
2 hard boiled eggs

2 the hard boiled eggs used as stuffing
1 tbsp chopped rue
1 tsp salsa fina


Clean the chicken. Remove entrails. Put oil, two tbsp water, onion juice with cilantro and salsa fina and flavorings, and a little murri in a pot. Add 2 c water. Grind the entrails, almonds, breadcrumbs and flour in a food processor. Mix with 1 beaten egg.  Stuff the chicken with the paste and two hard boiled eggs, one inserted in the body and the other in the neck. Sew the bird up. Put the chicken in the pot over medium heat. When cooked, remove strings tying the bird together. Remove the almond stuffing and slice. Remove the eggs and chop them with rue. Put the meat in a serving dish. Add the stuffing. Sprinkle the eggs and rue over the chicken with salsa finas. Present it, God willing.

[1] See the Medieval Spanish Chef blog titled latón for recipe titled "Perdiz judía/Jewish Partridge," published Feb 10, 15 and blog titled mangaejos for recipe titled "Plato de perdiz judia/A Jewish Dish of Partridge."
[2] This recipe can admit 4 partridges instead of 1 chicken as there are no more known medieval Spanish recipes for partridge.
[3]See blog titled dárselo published November 29, 2013 for recipe.

[4] See: almorí with Byzantine murri blog published August 25, 2011 for recipe.

[5] The recipe calls for two but as eggs are larger, one is enough. If use partridge eggs use four per partridge.


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