Eating Crow from the Oeconomia

I have said before people in Renaissance Germany would eat almost anything with wings on. Here is a rare description of how to cook crow, from the Oeconomia of Johannes Coler.

Peasants in Silesia eat them young because they have a fine, white meat, especially around the legs. They skin them of their entire pelt with the feathers. The head is thrown away. They are gutted and cooked whole in a pot. Then they are cut like a young chicken and and laid in a thick-walled cooking vessel (Tiegel) with butter and onions in it. They are thus roasted together.

(p. 773)

Farmers combated crows aggressively around sowing time, no doubt killing many. It is unlikely this source of meat would not have been used in a tiome of general shortage of animal foods. However, we learn little about how it was cooked. Even Marx Rumpolt, usually a reliable resource for the all-creatures-great-and-small approach to cookery, says only this:

Of a white crow: You may roast it or cook it in a sauce (eynmachen), thus it is also good to eat.

(p. XCIIII r)

Parboiling and then cooking with butter and onions looks like a perfectly plausible approach. In England, of course, crows were traditionally prepared in a pie.

Johann Coler’s Oeconomia ruralis et domestica was a popular book on the topic of managing a wealthy household. It is based largely on previous writings by Coler and first appeared between 1596 and 1601. Repeatedly reprinted for decades, it became one of the most influential early works of Hausväterliteratur. I am working from a 1645 edition.

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