As your family plans for Christmas dinner progress, it is a sure bet that a peacock roast is not on the menu. Lest you think that my mind is totally gone, or that the holiday liquor-based drinks have torqued my mind, an old clipping in my Christmas file brought this comment. Yes, the column tells of the medieval practice of selecting peacock meat as a royal dish. Roasted peacock was a delicacy. As far back as Roman times, peacock meat was consumed by the wealthiest members of society.
To support the chefs out there, let me explain how the majestic bird was prepared. The skin was removed along with the the feathers and saved. All would be put to use later in preparations. Once cleaned the bird was filled with stuffing and seasoned with many spices. The peacock was positioned so its legs suggested it was still alive. Once roasted and partially cooled, the bird was “reclothed” in its skin; tail feathers were spread out gracefully.
The lovely display was not delivered into the hall by any servant. The highest ranking lady was given the honor of presenting the carefully prepared treat before the most honored guest. The court ladies followed behind her as musicians played a fanfare. Then each knight placed a hand upon the bird, giving a solemn oath to perform some worthy deed. One knight was chosen as carver. It is said that the meat was rather dry so plenty of gravy was served.
When you consider the ways peacocks have been used to adorn medieval manuscripts, churches and buildings it is amazing they could be eaten. Tombs and Roman catacombs where persecuted Christians were sheltered displayed peacocks. This imagery was