Thursday, July 25, 2013

Old Hertfordshire Recipes: Dunstable Larks

8 Larks for our Supper at Dunstable. They were all on one Spit which was small, and designed for that purpose. They were laid very close to a brisk fire and turned very briskly; In about 2 Minuttes they were flowerd, after about as much more time they were basted with a great deal of Butter, so as to keep quite a stream pouring on them at the same time. They were turned as quick as possible, so that they were quite covered with a very thick froth. In this manner they were roasted for about 4 Minuites; and then the Cook with a Dish full of very fine grated Bread strewed them over by handfulls, holding the Dish under to catch what Bread did not stick. Being removed a little way from the fire, they were then laid close, and in about a Minute the same was repeated, so as to get as many Crumbs to stick as possible. They were then laid near the fire again, and turned carefully and slowly, sometimes backwards, sometimes forwards, but very steadily: This took up about 5 Minuites more; So that I judge they were about 10 Minuites a doing by a very brisk fire, and lying almost so close as to touch the Barrs. When the Crums were brown they were taken up and laid in two Rows in the Dish, and the four that were not separated stuck close together by the strength of the Cement of the Crums and Butter. They were done extreemly nice.

The Receipt Book of Baroness Elizabeth Dimsdale, c1800

Please note that this delicacy is no longer considered politically correct.


  1. While correctly labelled as a Meadowlark this is a North American species (Sturnella magna or S. neglecta) and a member of the blackbird family (Icteridae). The Skylark (Alauda arvensis) and Woodlark (Lullula arborea) are true larks Alaudidae. No doubt the recipe is for one of those. Adding to the taxonomic confusion, the five-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie are thrushes (Turdidae).

    1. Thanks - I have changed the photograph for a picture of a skylark (Alauda arvensis) from A Landsborough Thomson's "British Birds and their Nests" which was first published in about 1910.


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