Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Second Speech: as delivered this morning

Yeah - - I can pretty much forget sewing for the next six weeks. I was up until 11pm last night working on my homework. DANG!

I'm enjoying the class more. These kids are sooooooo funny. I spent almost the entire morning laughing. Half of the speeches this morning were completely ridiculous, but some of them were really well done.

I went first this morning, and did good. Of course I got a little constructive criticism, but nothing that I couldn't take. So here's today's speech:

A classmate posed an interesting question yesterday. He wondered why
we don’t eat swan. Perhaps I gave this a little too much thought.
Nevertheless, while it’s unlikely we’re going to see a Double McSwan with Cheese on any drive thru menu, there are, or were, times and/or places that swan would be on the menu.

I arrived at this suspicion because I was thinking about the famous Tchaikovsky ballet “Swan Lake” in which Prince Siegfried hunts
for swan with his crossbow. Being pathologically pragmatic, I couldn’t imagine that anyone would hunt swans solely for kicks, so the purpose must have been for source of food. In addition, being a lover of trashy historical romance novels, I was certain I had read references to swan being served on English trenchers during the Tudor period.

Clearly, some investigation was required. And here is what I learned about swan as a food product.

Through my research, I was able to confirm that swan was often served in Tudor times. A swan, roasted then redressed in its skin with feathers intact was commonly served to the nobility in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and Early Modern period. In addition to swan, peacock, crane, and storks were also cooked and served.

Currently, all British swans are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. Mute swan has had special protection since 1482 because the Crown owns the species.

The hunting and eating of swan is also a North American phenomenon. In fact, trumpeter swans were very nearly extinct until a ban on the hunting of all species of swan in North America that was put in place in 1917. This ban remains in effect to this day throughout Canada and in all but nine states in the USA. Shooting a swan in Canada can result in a maximum fine of $100,000 or 5 years in jail.

Now, I couldn’t be a good Religious Studies major without sharing with you what scripture has to say on the matter. In the 11th chapter of Leviticus, God speaks to Moses and Aaron:

And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the
fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the
ossifrage, and the osprey, And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; Every raven after his kind; And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.

So, what does swan taste like? Well, the jury is still out on that. I propose that in earlier times, when swan was considered a delicacy, the flavour of swan meat would have been described in very positive terms. Today, few people have ever tasted swan, and many more find the very idea of consuming swan abhorrent. According to the accounts I was able to find on the World Wide Web, swan meat has been described as tough, stringy, fishy, gamey, “like mud”, and, one particularly stomach churning testimony: “it is the equivalent of eating regurgitated fish”.

If you happen to want to try swan meat for yourself, you’ll be happy to know that you can purchase swan online for right about $1000 for a 9-12 month old bird, shipped live from California. But you’ll need to act fast, because it’s on SALE!


  1. oh, I can't wait to impress my friends and family with my newfound knowledge of swans as food! Really, glad the class is going well for you.

  2. Yummy swan I want to super size that? do I want fries with my swan?

    Nope I can't picture it at all....
    but going to school sure makes you think doesn't it?
    What is the average age of your fellow class mates?

    Happy Sewing....maybe soon?