By the Romans the Swan, first deprived of its sight, was fattened for the table. In Chaucer's time the meat of a plump Swan was evidently in favour for giving a good ruddy complexion to the men of that day. We read respecting the Monk, in the Canterbury Tales (1385): -

"Now certainly he was a fayre prelat; He was not pale, as a forpined gost; A fat swan loved he best of any rost".

Pepys tells in his Diary (January 19th, 1662): "To Mr. Povy's, where really I made a most excellent, and large dinner, he bidding us, in a frolique, to call for what we had a mind, and he would undertake to give it us; and we did, for prawns, Swan. venison, after I had thought the dinner was quite done, and he did immediately produce it, which I thought great plenty".

In more modern days a different experience is recorded: "When I was a girl my father shot a Swan - a wild one, as he thought - passing over our village before a storm. Alas! it belonged to a nobleman, his dearest friend, and was only taking a frisk round on its own account from the lonely lake where it lived. That bird was skinned for its plumage, and throughout many winters I was the envy of the whole village with a boa, muff, and cuffs of Swansdown feathering. The slaughtered bird was straightway spitted for roasting, and basting. Oh! the smell !! Whitby after a great catch of herrings wouldn't have been in it! The maids turned sick, my grandmother and aunts followed suit, also my grandfather; furthermore, a groom called in for the job turned sick in like fashion; and then, with the confidence of youth, I volunteered to baste that Swan! At last, amid great excitement, he was ready, with the gravy made, and a dish found big enough to hold him; and then with a solemn procession of the family he was served in state.

Several of the neighbours came in to have a taste; but, sad to relate, a taste was enough! Of all the tough, stringy, fishy meats I ever tried, that Swan was the worst! Our efforts ended with hacking just a few slices from the breast; but what the legs and wings were like was left unproved. The mistake was that this old Swan had long passed the Cygnet stage".

There is, or was, a Swan pit at Norwich, where Cygnets had their abode for table purposes, being specially fed with this view; and it has been declared that a wild Swan, if killed when young, equals in appetizing flavour a wild duck. The Cygnet should be prepared and trussed like a goose, receiving a stuffing of which three pounds of minced rump steak are an essential ingredient; it is then wrapped in oiled paper, next in water-paste, and again oiled paper, and roasted like venison; the package requires roasting for at least four hours before a large fire on the spit. It must be frequently basted with butter made liquid by melting. Or, it would be far preferable (says Dr. Thudicum) to bake the Cygnet in a good oven. The popular notion, derived from Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls, has no foundation in fact, that "The jealous Swan agens hire deth that syngeth." In Germany giblet pie is a well-known dish, the giblets being stewed with pork chops, and pears, whilst flavoured with sugar, and cloves. The giblets of a Cygnet are esteemed an ambrosial morsel, and form a lordly dish.

In England, on the Thames-side, a supper of two Cygnets is served annually for appreciative guests at the "Coach and Horses Inn,"Barnes.