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Thursday, 13 July 2017

Four sparrows and a thrush

He softly let himself out, and was gone some time. When he reappeared, he produced, not a rabbit, but four sparrows and a thrush. ‘I could do nothing in the way of a rabbit without setting a wire,’ he said. ‘But I have managed to get these by knowing where they roost.’ He showed her how to prepare the birds, and, having set her to roast them by the fire, departed with the pitcher, to replenish it at the brook which flowed near the homestead in the neighbouring Bottom.

Thomas Hardy - Two on a Tower (1882)

Times change. I would have no idea how to find a meal like that, nor how to cook it. Yet as a youngster I remember a great-uncle telling us about his childhood and how his family used to catch and eat sparrows. The times he was speaking of would only be a few years after Hardy published his novel.

We have lots of sparrows in the garden this year but I’m not tempted.

7 comments:

Sam Vega said...

"I would have no idea how to find a meal like that, nor how to cook it."

I've no idea about cooking it, but hipster restaurants are all over the place in London. With the right app, you could be tucking into sparrow within the hour.

Demetrius said...

On Youtube go to Guy Mitchell "Sparrow In The Treetop" from 1951.

Roger said...

I suppose 'setting a wire' would have been a bit infra dig for the characters in this tale. Only 40 years before you could have been hanged or transported for that. Better stay hungry and munch on a sparrow.

geebeetwo said...

Too many years ago to think about I lived in the country and us kids all had airguns.
We shot birds for the farmer who would give us pennies for disposing of crows pigeons etc. Never got rich from it but being kids we built fires and cooked many types of bird.
They all, without exception, tasted absolutely appalling! You haven't missed anything!

James Higham said...

Too many have cut the nexus between the getting of food and the cooking of it.

wiggiatlarge said...

If anyone has seen the amount of small birds that are shot in Cyprus Italy and Spain, it is a wonder there are any left at all never mind for the pot.

A K Haart said...

Sam - good idea, it could be a survival-themed restaurant or maybe something educational for children to learn how their impoverished ancestors had to survive before the welfare state.

Demetrius - the treetop would be too high for me.

Roger - a vindictive squire might even take umbrage at sparrow poaching.

geebeetwo - reminds me of the time I tried to shoot starlings with an airgun. I never hit one though.

James - yes and it's a pity because it's another step away from reality.

Wiggia - hardly seems worthwhile either. Why not raise chickens instead?