Sunday, November 13, 2011

Scotch Woodcock

An American Woodcock. Very sharp beak. Best avoided.

Scotch Woodcock is not what you think it is.

It is not, for instance, something that you might hope to find at the end of a date with a handsome northerner. Or perhaps during the date, if you’re that kind of girl, and happen to accidentally do a little undercover research while adjusting your napkin during the main course. You might decide to skip dinner altogether if you discovered the presence of a Scotch Woodcock while leaning in to say hello with a peck on the cheek.

Do not be put off if your date claims to have a taste for Scotch Woodcock. Scotch Woodcock is not an adult film actor.

Scotch Woodcocks available for private use can be purchased by purveyors of quality game, or rather games. For “games,” read “toys.” They require the occasional rub with oil to prevent them from drying out. Use of normal household polishing agents such as Pledge is not recommended, lest the Woodcock become damaged.

A Scotch Woodcock is also not a reference to a stiff drink, though it may be swallowed, and comes in individual-sized servings. Scotch Woodcock is picked up with the fingers, rather than cutlery, and eaten either as a starter when the appetite requires whetting in preparation for the main course, or afterwards, for a savory flourish. It is an acquired taste that can be a bit messy.

The presence of Scotch Woodcock on the menus of public houses wanting to recapture a bit of the old Pax Britannica glory with antique food should not make tourists think they have wandered into a house of ill-repute.

A woodcock may be enjoyed with a scotch, but that’s something altogether different.

A woodcock is also called a Snipe. Do not let anyone take you snipe hunting. The people who hunt snipe are known as "snipers." It's a term you may be familiar with. There's another reason you should never let anyone — even if they sound sincere — take you snipe hunting, but it's a secret. On a related note, do not let anyone persuade you to hunt for woodcock, or film you doing so for posterity. 

Ingredients:  The yolks of 2 eggs, 1 gill of cream (or cream and milk in equal parts), anchovy paste, toast, butter, cayenne pepper and salt to taste.

Method:  Cut the toast into 2-inch squares, butter well, and spread them with anchovy paste. Season the yolks with a little cayenne and salt; when slightly beaten add them to the hot cream, stir over the fire until they thicken sufficiently, then pour the preparation over the toast, and serve as hot as possible.

Time: About 10 minutes. Sufficient for 6 to 8 persons. 

Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management
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