Tuesday, March 16, 2010
My Italian friend, studying in Plymouth, England, liked to eat small birds. It apparently was a custom in Milan. He and I studied together in the same house and, when he studied, he set a food trap for small birds, starlings and others, and then would hang them in the basement for a few days, cook them whole on a spit and invite his friends for a dinner party. The pianist and my children were living upstairs in the council house with me and were aghast at this barbarity. It was contrary to her teaching that "God sees the little sparrow fall". I attended once by myself, when invited, and found it interesting but unusual.Of course the English neighbors found this small bird feeding custom offensive, but he persisted. It reminded me however, of my culinary endeavors as a boy in Kindersley, Saskatchewan in the 1940's. We had a dam adjacent to the town and it was a favorite place for 10 year olds to play. The dam was the only water source around in the arid, bald prairie so it attracted much bird life around it and in the spillway. It also served as the power source for Reddy Kilowatt which preceeded Sask. Power, providing electricity to the town. Jimmy Mac farlane had a Red Ryder BB gun and we shot, over time, a few small birds, sparrows and red wing blackbirds, and cooked them at the dam site. Our stove as I recall was an oil can turned upside down with wood burning as fuel and we boiled the breasts of the small birds in a can. I also remember cooking fried eggs on the flat surface of the oil can. I cannot remember the taste of our product but it probably left something to be desired. I cannot remember any other small bird dining parties. What we bird feeders have to answer for!