For Woodcock, Snipe, &c.

PERIOD: England, 17th century | SOURCE: The Art of Cookery Refined and Augmented, 1654 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: A wine sauce for small game birds

For Woodcock, Snipe, &c..

You may make sauce for Woodcocks or Snipes as followeth; If you draw your Fowle put an Onion in the belly, then spit them, roast them with a dish under them, in which let there be Claret, Vinegar, an Anchove, Pepper and Salt; the Fowle being roasted, put a little piece of Butter and a little grated Bread, shaking it well together and dish it with your Fowl.

It is a very good sauce for a wilde Duck, onely rub your dish with a clove of Garlike, because it is a ranker fowle.

Back when I first moved to Tennessee those many moons ago, a lot of pranks were played on this burgeoning Yank-a-Billy.  Being a young , gullible innocent and so eager to “fit in”, I’d sit in the teacher’s lounge after school and be “educated” (“Miss Ramona , haven’t you ever heard of a yaller dope and a Moon Pie?”) and I bit on most of them. Notably there were the fox hunts (TVA line paths that one could see over the mountains), what to do after eating wild ramps ( gargle with lemon juice so you wouldn’t offend anyone within a mile of your mouth), the secret of what to do to brown beans so one wouldn’t have gas ( and then you fart yourself into next Tuesday!). The biggie was “snipe hunting”. Now around here snipe hunting is BIG, real BIG and every newbie is asked if any of the locals have taken you to go snipe hunting. It would make me wonder when some of the teachers who didn’t have poker faces would snigger but who would have thought? What I was told eventually is that there are no snipes and what they meant was had anyone ever taken you into the woods at night and scared the living crap out of you.

Guess what? It took forty plus years to find out that, in fact, there is such a bird and I even got a picture from the internet  to prove it. I was looking at obscure recipes of the 17th century and found one for the sauce which I reprinted above in the original. Actually it looks like a wonderful sauce that I’ll make when I roast the duck breasts I have in my freezer. Low and behold, though, that one can roast  snipe and use the sauce for them. It can’t be a very big bird so one would have to have several if one were not to starve to death. Well, well, well!!! If I could only go back in time and proffer my smart phone to my “friends” and say, guess what, there IS SUCH A THING AS A SNIPE AND NO, I HAVEN’T BEEN HUNTING. Oh,  the joy! Then I’d invite  them to participate in a fox hunt.