Sometimes we look at the state of the world and feel despondent about human behavior and overwhelmed by what needs to be done. At those times it is a little reassuring to look back and see that we have actually made some progress in the right direction over the centuries. Take animal rights, for example. We would not find in any modern cookery book, actual written instructions such as those below.
From Eighteen Books Of the Secrets Of Art & Nature, (1661) by John Wecker, Dr. in Physick, some truly awful acts of cooking:
To roast a Goose alive.
Let it be a Duck or Goose, or some such lively Creature, but a Goose is best of all for this purpose, leaving his neck, pull of all the Feather from his body, then make a fire round about him, not too wide, for that will not rost him: within the place set here and there small pots full of water, with Salt and Honey mixed therewith, and let there be dishes set full of rosted Apples, and cut in pieces in the dish, and let the Goose be basted with Butter all over, and Larded to make him better meat, and he may rost the better, put fire to it; do not make too much haste, when he begins to rost, walking about, and striving to fly away, the fire stops him in, and he will fall to drink water to quench his thirst; this will cool his heart and the other parts of his body, and by this medicament he loosneth his belly, and grows empty. And when he rosteth and consumes inwardly, alwayes wet his head and heart with a wet Sponge: but when you see him run madding and stumble, his heart wants moysture, take him away, set him before your Guests, and he will cry as you cut off any part from him and will be almost eaten up before he be dead, it is very pleasant to behold.
A Lamprey fryed, boyld, and rosted, at the same time.
First torturing the Lamprey with rubbing him with a sharp Cloath, thrust a Spit through him; and wrap all the parts boyld and fryed, threeorfour times in Linnen Rags, strewing Pepper with Wine, and upon the boyled Lamprey, Parsley, Saffron, Mints, Fennel, bruised with sweet Wine, and make them wet with water and Salt, or Broth, command the fryed partsto be wrapt in Oyl at the fire, alwayes moystning it, with a bunch of Origanum sprinkling it, when part is torrefied, take it up it will be excellent meat, set it before your company.
That a roasted Peacock may seem as if he were alive [and breathes fire].
Kill the Peacock, either thrusting a Feather from above into his brain, or cut his throat as you do a young Kids, and let the blood run forth of his throat; then divide his skin gently as far as his tail, and being divided pull it off from his head all over his body Feathers and all ; keep this with the skin cutoff, and hang the Peacock by the heels upon a Spit, having stuffed him with sweet Herbs and Spices, and roast him, first sticking Cloves all along his brest, and wrapping his neck in a white Linnen Cloath, alwayes wetting it, that it dry not. When the Peacock is rosted, take him off from the Spit, and put his own skin upon, him, and that he may seem to stand upon his feet, make some Rods of Iron fastned into a Board, made with leggs, that it may not be discerned, and drive these through his body as far as his head. Some to make sport and laughter, put Wool with Camphir into his mouth, and they cast in fire when he comes to the Table. Also you may gild a rosted Peacock, strewed With Spices, and covered with leaves of Gold for your recreation, and for magnificence; The same may be done with Pheasants, Crains, Geese, Capons, and other Birds.
Please, dear readers, do not send me abusive emails. Someone always does, when I post something like this, as if I am promoting this sort of practice. I am recording past practices, folks, that is all!