A Devonshire man sent his club, just before Christmas, a fine large swan in a hamper. The hamper was addressed to the secretary, who notified the club members of the treat that was in store, and a special swan dinner was arranged. The swan came on, at this dinner, looking magnificent — erect and stately on a great silver-gilt salver. But tough! It was so tough you couldn’t carve the gravy.
A few days later the sender of the swan dropped in at the club. “Got my swan all right. I hope?” he said to the secretary.
“Yes, and a nice trick you played us.”
“Trick? What do you mean?”
“Why, we boiled that swan for sixteen hours, and when it came on the table it was tougher than a block of granite.”
“Good gracious! Did you have my swan cooked?”
“Yes, of course.”
The other was in despair.
“Why, that bird was historic,” he groaned. “I sent him up to be stuffed and preserved. He had been in my family for 200 years. He had eaten out of the hand of King Charles I.”
The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 8 January 1910
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil does not like to call a gentleman a liar, but swans only live for perhaps two or three decades at best. If the swan truly had eaten out of the hand of King Charles I, he must have been frozen solid for at least two centuries.
The club secretary and members would have felt like royalty: roast swan was a feature of royal Christmas feasts from time immemorial. The Crown may lay claim to all swans in public waters; currently the Queen shares her swans with two livery companies: the vintners and the dyers; the yearly ceremony of “swan upping” divides the Thames swans between the Queen and the livery companies. Queen Victoria and King Edward VII enjoyed a nice Christmas swan. This article gives the receipt for its preparation, should you happen to have a 200-year-old swan lying about the larder.
KING’S CHRISTMAS SWAN.
Every Year One is Served at Sandringham—The Recipe.
The royal swan has ever been a conspicuous item in the Christmas menu at Sandringham. Every year the largest and plumpest young cygnet that can be obtained from the swannery on the Thames is killed.
When it leaves the hands of the special messenger at Sandringham it is taken charge of by the head cook, who personally looks after it until it is laid before the king.
Trussed like a goose, it is stuffed with a rich mixture of which the principal ingredient is ¾ of a pound of rump steak. It is finally covered with a piece of oily paper, sprinkled with flour, wrapped in a second piece of paper; and then roasted on a spit for four or five hours in front of a blazing fire.
A gravy of beef is provided to which is added a pint of good port wine. Folk who have tasted this dish describe the flavor as being half way between goose and hare. New York World.
The Boston [MA] Globe 24 January 1909: p. 48
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.