“several dozen oysters in minutes”
[King Edward VII, while prince] filled his weeks and years with women, dancing, horse racing, playing cards, taking rest cures at Marienbad and shooting – he recorded 8463 pheasants over four days at one Leicestershire house party. And guzzling:
Shooting breakfast typically consisted of poulet sauté aux champignons, rump steaks pommes, saucisson doré and oeufs brouillés aux truffes. Shooting lunch was: Don Pedro sherry, curry of rabbits, ronde de boeuf, partridges, roast beef, galantine foie gras, wild boar, apple pudding and rum baba.
At Sandringham near the Norfolk coast, Bertie would swallow ‘several dozen oysters in minutes’.
— Bee Wilson, LRB
nothing was left but the semblance of a hoop-skirt
After this music, the priest who stood behind the royal table said a noble long grace in ostensible Latin. Then the battalion of waiters broke away from their posts, and darted, rushed, flew, fetched and carried, and the mighty feeding began; no words anywhere, but absorbing attention to business. The rows of chops opened and shut in vast unison, and the sound of it was like to the muffled burr of subterranean machinery.
The havoc continued an hour and a half, and unimaginable was the destruction of substantials. Of the chief feature of the feast—the huge wild boar that lay stretched out so portly and imposing at the start—nothing was left but the semblance of a hoop-skirt; and he was but the type and symbol of what had happened to all the other dishes.
— Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee
Behind the boar’s bulk lies his appetite; he grows according to the food supply, and Sus scrofa is a glutton. The history of his domestication proceeds from this fact. Boars fattened by the Romans reached weights of up to 1000 lbs. Such leviathans were the means to ever more conspicuous feats of consumption, a tradition which achieved its apotheosis in the serving of wild boar à la Troyenne at a banquet given by Servilius Rullus for Marcus Tullius Cicero after the latter’s victory over Catiline in 63 BC.
A young Sicilian cook prepared the dish, which was carried in by four Ethiopian slaves. Baskets of dates were suspended from the boar’s tusks. Piglets in pastry surrounded it. When the boar was cut open, a second animal was discovered within it, and a third, and a fourth. The sequence was finally terminated by a fig-pecker. (‘If a figpecker could grow as big as a pheasant, it would be worth the price of an acre of land,’ Brillat-Savarin adjudged 19 centuries later, before divulging Canon Charcot’s method of consumption: pull out the gizzard and swallow the bird whole. M.F.K. Fisher calls this recipe ‘brutishly refined’ but admits puzzlement as to what the canon did with the feathers.) Lawrence Norfolk, Thoughts about Boars and Paul Celan
And although the tail was so great that it was a full load for nine men…
Snout well soused in vinegar
The implication that Athenaeus was concerned only with seafood or that he had a fishy agenda is simply false. His work concerns all the pleasures of the flesh and indeed he devotes a little space to the merits of sow’s womb and smoked pig’s knuckles.
Feet, ears, and the snout are mentioned by Alexis in Crateia, or The Apothecary; his testimony I will quote a little later,17 since it contains many of the terms under discussion. Theophilus in the Pancration-Fighter:18 “A. Of boiled dishes there are nearly three pounds’ weight. — B. Tell us more! — A. A snout, a ham, four pigs’ feet, — BB. Heracles!19 — A. and three ox-feet.” Anaxilas in The Caterers:20 “A. More satisfactory to me by far than verses from Aeschylus is baking fish. — B. What’s that you say, fish? You mean to make your messmates sick. How much better to boil trotters . . . snouts and feet.” And Anaxilas in Circe:21 “Having the snout of a pig, dear Cinesias; it was awful!” And in Calypso:22 C“I realized then that I bore a pig’s snout.”
Ears are mentioned by Anaxandrides in his Satyrias,23 and Axionicus in The Chalcidian24 says: “I am preparing a stew by warming over a fish until it is hot, putting in morsels that have been left over and moistening them with wine, slashing in some entrails seasoned with salt and silphium, a slice of sausage, and a bit of tripe, with a snout well soused in vinegar; and so you will all agree that the next morning’s fare is better than that at the wedding the night before.” DAristophanes in The Rehearsal:25 “Alack, I have tasted the entrails of my children; how shall I look upon that scorched snout?” And Pherecrates in Frills:26 “For is not this simply a swine’s snout?”
There is also a place called by this name, Snout (Beak), near Stratus in Aetolia, according to Polybius in the sixth book of the Histories.27 And Stesichorus, in the Boar Hunters, has:28 “to hide the tip of the snout underground.” That the word “snout” is properly applied only to swine has already been explained;29 Ebut that it may be applied also to other animals, and even be used jocosely of the human face, is shown by Archippus in the second edition of Amphitryo:30 “Although he has a snout so long.” So Araros, in Adonis:31 “For the god is turning his snout toward us.”
Much more where that came from… for instance:
The tongue is mentioned by Aristophanes in Masters of the Frying-pan:42 “No more anchovy for me! I am bursting with the greasy stuff I’ve eaten. Rather, to take the taste away, bring me a piece of liver or a glandule from a young boar, or failing that, a rib or a tongue or a spleen; or fetch me the paunch of a sucking-pig killed in the autumn, with some hot rolls.”
Curlew, brew, snites, quailes, sparows, mertenettes rost, / Perche in jely
Furst set forthe mustard and branwe of boore, the wild swine,
Such potage as the cooke hath made of yerbis, spice and wine,
Beeff, moton, stewed feisaund, swan with the chawdwin,
Capoun, pigge, vensoun bake, leche lombard, fruture viaunt fine …
Two potages, blanger mangere, and also jely
For a standard, vensoun rost, kid, faune, or cony,
Bustard, stork, crane, pecock in hakille ryally,
Heiron-sew or betowre, with-serve with bred, if that drink be by;
Partriche, woodcok, plovere, egret, rabettes sowekere;
Gret briddes, larkes, gentille breme de mere,
Dowcettes, paine puff, with leche, jely ambere,
Fretoure powche, a sotelte folowinge in fere …
Creme of almondes, and mameny, the thridde course in coost,
Curlew, brew, snites, quailes, sparows, mertenettes rost,
Perche in jely, crevise dewe douche, pety perveis with the moost,
Quinces bake, leche dugard, future sage, I speke of cost,
… after this, delicatis mo:
Blaunderelle, or pepins, with carawey in confite.
Waffers to ete, ypocras to drink with delite.
Now this fest is finished, void the table quite;
Go we to the fish fest while we have respite,
And then with Goddes grace the fest will be do
— John Russell,from The Book of Nurture