This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
Speaking collectively, "Game" signifies creatures taken in the chase; with us it includes Venison (of the Deer), Grouse, Hare, Partridge, Pheasant, Snipe, and Woodcock. The flesh of such "game" is finer in texture than that of butcher's meat, and does not so soon become putrid. When a domestic animal is placed under the same conditions as a wild one its flesh in the course of time assumes the closer texture, and other characteristics of game, as seen by the instance of Welsh Mountain mutton. If sent to table shortly after being killed these creatures of the chase are tough, and insipid; but when game is allowed to hang for some time in a whole condition there takes place the gradual creation of a chemical acid by fermentation in the flesh, which becomes strongly acid; also the muscular tissues grow tender, and after some time traces of hydrogen sulphides are liberated. The characteristic flavours of the game are in direct proportion to the amount of these sulphides, or mercaptans, thus set free, but not to putrefactive compounds. Such birds as Partridge, Plover, Snipe, Pheasant, Woodcock, and the like are particularly appropriate food for the sick, partly as dainties, but more especially by reason of the nutrient properties which they contain.
They are remarkably rich in mineral salts, especially the phosphates, which are so much needed when the system has become exhausted by disease. Birds which feed mainly on grains, such as the Partridge, and the Pheasant, will keep a long while in cold weather; but birds with dark flesh, living chiefly on animal food, quickly undergo decay. Game of white meat . should be done well in cooking; that with dark flesh should be rare. The dangerous microbes which are at first associated with decomposition of game, are presently succeeded by other microbes which are harmless. Therefore if game be eaten at its preliminary stage of putrefaction it may produce serious ill effects; whilst these do not ensue after partaking of game kept longer until tender, and succulent. According to Julius Caesar (Scaliger), the Partridge came originally from Mount Olympus, and has always preserved the proud consciousness of his divine origin. Par excellence the grey English Partridge is the best for eating, there being also a red-legged variety which has culinary excellence. "The young birds that are taken even as they be readie to fly, and are afterwards fattened, prove the best, for they make a pure, and excellent nourishment; they are only hurtful to countrymen, because they breed in them the asthmatick passion, which is a short, and painful fetching of breath: by reason whereof these will not be able to undergoe their usuall labours.
Wherefore when they shall chance to meet with a covie of young partridges, they were much better to bestow them upon such for whom they are convenient, than to adventure (notwithstanding their strong stomackes) the eating of them, seeing that there is in their flesh such a hidden and perilous antipathie unto their bodies." Says Mr. George Saintsbury, in Fur and Feather Series, "my private conviction is that the best thing you can do with a Partridge, provided he be an honest grey Partridge of British nationality (and the only one which a true gourmand would ever admit to his table), is to roast him in front of the fire, and serve him hot; furthermore to eat what is left cold of him next morning for breakfast, with no other condiment but salt, and a little cayenne pepper. For a plain roast the English grey Partridge, young, and plump, has no rival, and can be put to no better use than roasted plain, being served with such accompaniments as you may please of bread sauce, brown bread crumbs, or fried potatoes".
Partridge With Celery Sauce is helpful in cookery for invalids; again, Partridge pudding is a capital dish, thoroughly English; it is thought to have been invented by the South Saxons, having its origin in the region of Ashdown Forest. "Phick, draw, and singe a brace of well-hung partridges. Cut them into neat joints, and if they are not very young take off the skin first." Line a quart pudding basin with a good suet crust, half an inch thick, and in trimming it off leave an inch above the edge. Lay a thin slice of rump steak at the bottom of the pudding, then put in the pieces of partridge: season with pepper and salt; and pour over them a quarter of a pint of good brown gravy. Roll out the cover, lay it on the pudding, moisten the edge, and press over it the inch that was left round the rim. Wring a pudding-cloth out of hot water, flour it well and tie it securely over the pudding, then plunge this into boiling water and keep it fast boiling all the time it is on the fire. As soon as it is taken off, cut a small round out of the top to let the steam escape. Like all other meat puddings it is much better if served in the dish in which it has been cooked. A few fresh mushrooms will (as some think) improve the pudding.
Game, when "high" (also fish), will emit if in a dark cellar luminous phosphorescence, acting on which fact an Austrian scientist has constructed a lamp consisting of luminous bacilli, or microbes, in gelatine.
"When, they tell me, food decays, It emits quite dazzling rays, And a lobster in your room If it's ripe, dispels the gloom.
"Legs of mutton somewhat high, Shine like diamonds in the sky. Further than a. lamp, it seems, Gorgonzola sheds its beams.
"Gas has had its little day, Microbe light has come to stay. Shortly we shall see each street Lit by tins of potted meat".
For boiled partridge, or pigeon, "Clean, and season the bird: enclose it in a puff paste, and boil. Serve in its own gravy, supplemented by the liver rubbed up with some stock: and do not forget the bread-sauce. To make this latter, take the crumbs of a French roll, of water half a pint, black pepper six to eight corns, a small piece of onion, and salt to taste. Boil all smooth, then add a piece of butter about as big as a walnut, and mix for use. It is good hot with hot birds, cold with cold birds, and is an excellent food for the sick." Likewise, roast partridge, with sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), is declared by some to be the perfection of game food.