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TV Dinners: The Tudors - Birds Baked In a Pie

This week's TV Dinner is a little bit spectacular, and unfortunately one that you're not going to be able to make at home (at least not easily and not without getting the health board, peta and animal control upset at you).

I have a thing for older cookbooks, and recently I came across one by food historian Esther B. Aresty called The Delectable Past (1964). In it, Aresty shares several recipes from her collection of rare and collectable books - including recipes dating back to the middle ages. While reading it, I came across a recipe for a pie that would have birds fly out of it (just like the nursery rhyme). I thought it was pretty interesting, but didn't think I'd ever have any reason to bring it up. I was wrong.

This week I was watching the second episode of The Tudors and during the episode Jonathan Rhys-Meyers presents the king of France with a large tart. The king doesn't seem that amused until he begins to cut it open and PWHOOSH! out flies a bunch of birds. When I saw it I honestly flipped out and got really excited, I honestly had to rewind it and then squeal, "Wah! I just found the next TV dinner!"

To check out the ye olde recipe for live birds in a pie, and get a link to a video clip,

Sorry no clip this time, but you can find it at Showtime's website - click videos then choose episode 2, "A Surprising Gift").

To make Pies that the Birds may be alive in them, and flie out when it is cut up.
From Epulario, 1598

Make the coffin of a great pie or pastry, in the bottome thereof make a hole as big as your fist, or bigger if you will, let the sides of the coffin bee somewhat higher then ordinary pies, which done put it full of flower and bake it, and being baked, open the hole in the bottome, and take out the flower. Then having a pie of the bigness of the hole in the bottome of the coffin aforesaid, you shal put it into the coffin, withall put into the said coffin round about the aforesaid pie as many small live birds as the empty coffin will hold, besides the pie aforesaid. And this is to be done at such time as you send the pie to the table, and set before the guests: where uncovering or cutting up the lid of the great pie, all the birds will flie out, which is to delight and pleasure shew to the company. And because they shall not bee altogether mocked, you shall cut open the small pie, and in this sort you may make many others, the like you may do with a tart.

Join The Conversation
mandiesoh mandiesoh 10 years
LOL extremely amusing yum & geek! lol. its SOOO gross tho :rotfl:
Tech Tech 10 years
I love it - what a great find Yum! I actually ended up looking this up, to see how the tradition started because I'm pretty obsessed with the idea. "During the Medieval times, there were occasions when the cook in the house of a wealthy knight did indeed put live birds (often pigeons, but I'm sure it could just as easily have been blackbirds) inside a huge pastry crust, on his own initiative. This was seen as a great joke and the cook would usually have a real pie waiting to bring in when the birds had been released." Check out more details here. Who would have thunk it? I'm amazed and amused.
stardelice stardelice 10 years
What if the birds poop on the way out?? Doesn't sound very hygenic. But maybe its fun to watch. Lux
boxem180 boxem180 10 years
this is hilarious.
ALSW ALSW 10 years
All I can say is Ick!
celebrity_soup celebrity_soup 10 years
Just kidding! Im not too sure about this recipe! lol
celebrity_soup celebrity_soup 10 years
Yum! This looks o good, will try this out for sure someday. :P
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