Well two actually, but that's what happens when you create the culinary equivalent of a cut 'n shut, you get 4 halves so you're gonna end up with two 'animals'.
As all of this took place in the dim and distant past (Christmas 2002) there isn't a great deal of pictorial evidence to hand....the height of technology that we had access to was a Sony Mavica, woo hoo, although you will also notice Robert taking pictures in some of the shots, whether he can find those slides and scan them I'm not sure, but I digress.
All of the pictures I have are now up on Flickr for you to see, they include this selection:
along with a few others....ahh that evening just flew by....or perhaps it was the beer?
The only other notable fact about that night of creation was that the custody warders learnt not to rifle through our fridges for snacks when we aren't about as those two staring back at them by torchlight were apparently NOT what they were expecting to find.
As to the finished results, well I have no pictures to show (Robert?) but it went really well. The beast was placed on the spit and a wire 'frame' added to keep the head, wings and feet in their correct positions, it was then roasted in front of the fire, with a batter applied half way through which hid all of the stitches, in fact it did such a good job that we had a devil of a time convincing people that it wasn't a real animal....I kid you not, they wanted to know what it was, why they'd not heard of one before and how it flew with those small wings as it couldn't possibly walk having no front legs!!! Even telling the truth they didn't believe us...amazing really.
We tried to shield the feathers by placing wet parchment sleeves over the wings, but that just shrank like heat shrink tubing so we took it off...with hindsight it was obvious that it would, but hey, we were young, I believe that they survived in some shape or form to the table in spite of this! If I remember correctly it stank to high heaven on the table but that was because of the turkey having its head still on and that was never intended by the supplier (we chose a turkey as it was the only bird that we could match girth with to the sucking pig) and boy was it bad....not enough to put us off, but bad none the less! Why I'm not sure as it was washed and cleaned, possibly just the smell of the brain over cooking, I really couldn't say and it didn't matter that much as it was the overall impression that we were aiming for.
Would we do it again? Possibly, but with a lot more planning that we did that time.....and having learnt so much about the roasting of meat I think it would be a great success....who knows, probably not this year, but never say never......even with all the fuss that meat and certain animals seems to generate, still at least it wasn't fluffy bunnies eh?
As for the peacock, grief that was even further back in time, possibly 1996, but that's just a very wild guess. I only have one picture of this:
There are possibly more, but not currently in digital form.
This was done in the 'good old days' when we weren't running the show and there were different team members involved, as you may notice....his name's Andy and he was a demon when it came to working with the dead animals.....a bit like Pick, but somehow more 'natural', although I think it was mostly down to practice with road kill!
The choice to cook the peacock wasn't ours, it was Peter Brears who ran things, we sort of just did as we were shown back then (my how things have evolved). Peter, bless him, knows a phenomenal amount about food and its history, he was just never too hot on telling us, or in fact anybody the references used, so Lois, to answer your question, it was sort of a generic peacock recipe that was used.....gut it, peel it, roast it, put the skin back on.
You will notice the candles in the shot, they aren't just for show, they were the light we were working too!! All of the prep' work was done after hours on the Christmas event we did this, as it was felt that it may generate complaints, so working by candle light Andy deftly removed the skin and gutted the animal. The next day it was placed on the spit with wire to hold the wings and legs in place as well as a long wire down the neck to hold it upright, it was then roasted until done and left to cool before the head was plopped onto the protruding wire and the skin dressed back onto the body. Again all of this dressing was done after hours for fear of offending the public....in hindsight it was a stupid PR panic lead decision that should never have been allowed to dictate the state of play because so many interested people never got to see the finished dish...still live and learn eh?!
It looked absolutely amazing, just like you see in the manuscript illustrations, especially as this was by candle light and the feathers simply shone with colour as it was processed to the table for our assembled guests to try (which would have made it New Years Eve)....tasted just like chicken though!
We needn't have worried about the public comments, they ranged from "it's some kind of raptor" (meaning bird of prey, because of the claws) to "it's a velociraptor?? coool", but all were positive and all could see the reasons for trying the recipe out, they just couldn't see why they weren't allowed to have seen the whole process....in fact the comments for this were almost repeated when we came to the cockentryce, but again the same squeamishness descended from above and the preparation work was to be done away from the public gaze.....shame really as I thing on the whole apart from those who are out specifically to be offended (and they are certainly out there) the vast majority would appreciate seeing the whole process behind such a bonkers recipe.
I would love to try the peacock again and the sooner the better, the only problem at the moment is sourcing the birds. When we did it last time it was easy, odd meat was in vogue and the world and his wife was selling peacock along with kudu steaks and alligator....today, peacock seems to have vanished and I'm not too sure why. Still, always on the look out and when we can find a supplier then we'll be sure to have another go, but this time with more pictures for you all to see and with a more mature bird with bigger tail feathers that would allow us to display the tail all fanned out just like the manuscript pictures show...we can but dream.
So the weekend is nearly upon us, just a couple of days to go and fingers crossed with the new phone I'll be able to post or tweet almost as it happens (although you'd be right to believe it when you see it!!)