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Eating SWAN


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22 replies to this topic

#1 adrober

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 01:43 PM

According to Alex Ross's music blog The Rest Is Noise: "Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen's Musick, was recently questioned by the Northern Constabulary when a half-eaten swan carcass turned up on his Orkney Islands estate. The swan is a protected bird in the UK, and the police were unamused when Sir Peter offered them swan terrine."

He then asks me if that would taste good and I have no idea! Thus I am turning to the eGullet community to answer the question: does swan taste good? Anyone eaten it? How about swan terrine?

My hunch is that ugly ducklings taste better.
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#2 daniellewiley

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 01:46 PM

According to Alex Ross's music blog  The Rest Is Noise: "Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen's Musick, was recently questioned by the Northern Constabulary when a half-eaten swan carcass turned up on his Orkney Islands estate. The swan is a protected bird in the UK, and the police were unamused when Sir Peter offered them swan terrine."

He then asks me if that would taste good and I have no idea!  Thus I am turning to the eGullet community to answer the question: does swan taste good?  Anyone eaten it?  How about swan terrine?

My hunch is that ugly ducklings taste better.

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How bizarre - we just discussed this at breakfast today. My father-in-law hit and killed a swan with his car many years ago. He was in front of his friend's house, so he brought it in, and the friend and his family ate it. My father-in-law, surprisingly enough, didn't have any (he'll eat anything), but he reported that it is very similar to goose (dark meat, lots of fat), just much bigger!
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#3 Liz Johnson

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 02:01 PM

Funny, I was just wondering about this myself. There are several swans at the lake where I go running. There are also geese and ducks. Of course this got me wondering why swans seem to be just about the only large birds we don't eat?!?!
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#4 culinary bear

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 02:06 PM

This has been discussed to a certain extent recently on the UK and Ireland board, under this thread - it's still an active topic, so perhaps they could be combined?

Ta,

Allan.
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#5 FaustianBargain

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 02:16 PM

Swans are vicious birds. They are beautiful, but they are downright mean. I will never forget the hissing that came out of one immensely graceful bird. I remember thinking that they were quite muscular. That neck!! I vaguely recall hearing that they are monogamous and they never seperate. These are factors that may have contributed to their wildness. I dont think swans can be domesticated. Geese are also difficult to domesticate too, iirc. More difficult than ducks, but easier than swans.

Edited by FaustianBargain, 25 March 2005 - 02:17 PM.


#6 Jason Perlow

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 02:20 PM

I don't know about that, FB. Those Canadian geese are ripe bastards, especially if they are with their young. About 2 years ago a huge gaggle of them had descended on the office park I was working at, and they were congregating in the parking lot -- they didn't give a crap whether or not a car was coming down the aisles or if it was about to pull into a parking space. I tried to shoo one away one once, but it got really pissed off, hissed like a mother-f'er, and it chased me for like a hundred feet. It had little goslings with it. Don't mess with them.
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#7 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 02:32 PM

I don't know about that, FB. Those Canadian geese are ripe bastards, especially if they are with their young. About 2 years ago a huge gaggle of them had descended on the office park I was working at, and they were congregating in the parking lot -- they didn't give a crap whether or not a car was coming down the aisles or if it was about to pull into a parking space. I tried to shoo one away one once, but it got really pissed off, hissed like a mother-f'er, and it chased me for like a hundred feet. It had little goslings with it. Don't mess with them.

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A video of this would make excellent fare for reality TV . Perhaps there was a security camera recording the events? I can smell big money here.
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#8 MT-Tarragon

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 02:34 PM

I've never eaten it myself, but I've always heard that swan is tough and stringy, requiring a long, slow cooking process to make edible and usually covered with a gravy or sauce for flavor reasons. I believe it is one animal which departs from my usual rule of "the cuter it is, the more delicious it must taste."
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#9 FaustianBargain

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 02:35 PM

I don't know about that, FB. Those Canadian geese are ripe bastards, especially if they are with their young. About 2 years ago a huge gaggle of them had descended on the office park I was working at, and they were congregating in the parking lot -- they didn't give a crap whether or not a car was coming down the aisles or if it was about to pull into a parking space. I tried to shoo one away one once, but it got really pissed off, hissed like a mother-f'er, and it chased me for like a hundred feet. It had little goslings with it. Don't mess with them.

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Canadian, you said? :laugh:

They can be quite aggressive, yes. It is a tad intimidating. I have had ducks trying to peck my feet, but they are, afterall, ducks. The geese are huge, but the swans are downright scary.

#10 culinary bear

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 02:46 PM

okay, this seems to be the more active thread. :)

There's an old wives' tale, regularly drummed into potential child miscreants, that swans should never be approached because "they can break your arm, you know".

Well, perhaps in Scotland, at least.

Wild geese, especially the larger Canada geese, can be agressive - I certainly wouldn't want to mess about with one.

So, has anyone actually eaten swan?
Allan Brown

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#11 racheld

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 03:30 PM

We don't eat swans because they're not bread, but hyacinths.

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#12 culinary bear

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 03:32 PM

We don't eat swans because they're not bread, but hyacinths.

rachel

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can I have some of what you've been ingesting, please?
Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

#13 Ben Hong

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 03:34 PM

Some wineries and distilleries of Europe use graylag geese as "warchdogs".

As a hunter, I've eaten about 6 species of geese, a dozen types of ducks, herons but never a swan...hmmm. Naww, too fricken beautiful and scarce.

#14 gingerly

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 04:13 PM

from 'food of the western world'-

traditionally served once a year by 'the swan wardern of the vintners company at the vintners'  hall in the city of london,after the swans)owned by her majesty)have been marked and counted.

.

only the young bird is worth eating....well fleshed and carves well.when dressed it looks rather like dark- coloured goose,although the flavour is quite different.it is stuffed with chestnuts,sausage meat,onion and herbs,and the breast is larded with bacon before roasting as the meat is inclined to be dry.the bird is basted with warm red wine.


the 'owned by her majesty' seems to be somwhat fuzzy.apologies if this has been posted before

#15 robyn

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 05:16 PM

I ate swan once on a trip to the UK in the 1970's. It was awful. Tough - and gamey. Of course - everything we ate there in the 70's was sub-par (as opposed to the much better food on later trips). So perhaps it might be better in the hands of a competent chef. Robyn

#16 halloweencat

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 05:24 PM

i believe all swans in britain (perhaps the entire uk?) are the property of the sovereign. i don't know if that aspect impacts how authorities might look the other way when one is consumed (as in the car accident incident).

cheers :)

hc

#17 racheld

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 05:30 PM

We don't eat swans because they're not bread, but hyacinths.

rachel

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can I have some of what you've been ingesting, please?

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Saadi.
Fairy tea has its own magic, for it never does run out;
And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
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#18 Zucchini Mama

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Posted 03 April 2005 - 11:03 PM

Geez, Louise!

A few years back I did a performance piece called "Eating Swan". Imagine my surprise and delight upon discovering this thread!

I have a wonderful old photo of my great grandmother in her Gibson girl topknot, white blouse and long black skirt holding up the wing of a dead swan in one hand and a shotgun in the other. This is on the Canadian prairies where I'm sure they chowed down on the bird no matter how tough or greasy it was. These days you would not want to make your found swan into a terrine. The birds have such long necks they often ingest old lead buckshot at the bottom of ponds. One of the reasons they fly into power lines is because lead poisoning affects their vision.

I am planning on expanding and remounting the piece, so I'll have to work in this new material! I'd appreciate any arcane tidbits on the history of eating swan.

Cheers,
Zucchini Mama
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#19 srhcb

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 08:56 AM

It beats eating crow?

#20 Daniel

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 11:53 AM

This weekend a had a large plate of swan gizzards at Frontera Grill in Chicago.. First time eating Swan and since its the gizzard, it gave me no understanding what the whole bird would taste like.. But it was rather good.. Then again, i think Bayless could make a shoe delicious.. The dish reminded me of a spicy chewy chorizo..

#21 mnebergall

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 12:28 PM

What kind of swan are we talking about here: the ones that hang around ponds all the time or the migratory Tundra Swans that only come around in the winter. Tundra Swans have become plentiful enough that a few states, such as Virgina and North Carolina (I believe) have a season on them. You have to draw for a tag and the limit is one per season. I see flocks of them all the time when I'm out goose hunting. My guess is that they would taste pretty good, depending on how you cook them. I'd probably just take the breast meat and roast until medium rare (seeing as how it would all be dark meat).

#22 racheld

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 08:28 AM

This weekend a had a large plate of swan gizzards at Frontera Grill in Chicago.. First time eating Swan and since its the gizzard, it gave me no understanding what the whole bird would taste like.. But it was rather good.. Then again, i think Bayless could make a shoe delicious..  The dish reminded me of a spicy chewy chorizo..

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]

I can imagine that some place will put something that exotic on the menu, but where on EARTH would they get enough of something that small? Is there a swan slaughterhouse somewhere we know not of?

Whole ones--that's understandable, if off-putting, but GIZZARDS??

And how is it listed on the menu, and how were they cooked? And by "large plate" do you mean a dozen or so? Where are they GETTING all these birds?

Just think of how many of those lovely, ethereal creatures it must take to supply that one very odd dish....yuk. And shudder.
Fairy tea has its own magic, for it never does run out;
And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
Fairy Tea

My Blog--Thanksgiving and Goodwill

LAWN TEA

#23 Daniel

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Posted 14 April 2005 - 07:06 AM

This weekend a had a large plate of swan gizzards at Frontera Grill in Chicago.. First time eating Swan and since its the gizzard, it gave me no understanding what the whole bird would taste like.. But it was rather good.. Then again, i think Bayless could make a shoe delicious..   The dish reminded me of a spicy chewy chorizo..

View Post

]

I can imagine that some place will put something that exotic on the menu, but where on EARTH would they get enough of something that small? Is there a swan slaughterhouse somewhere we know not of?

Whole ones--that's understandable, if off-putting, but GIZZARDS??

And how is it listed on the menu, and how were they cooked? And by "large plate" do you mean a dozen or so? Where are they GETTING all these birds?

Just think of how many of those lovely, ethereal creatures it must take to supply that one very odd dish....yuk. And shudder.

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I understand that itmight sound bad, but they were actually really good.. The gizzards were sliced so I dont know how many gizzards went into the dish.. They were spicy, crispy and a little chewy, almost tasted like chorizo.. Served with tortilla's and fresh crema. I doubt that they are being slaughtered just for there gizzards, so its nice to see they arent going to waste..

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Edited by Daniel, 14 April 2005 - 07:07 AM.