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.
Quails (Coturnix), though for the most part imported into this country, yet find their way commonly into game-sellers shops, and afford for the invalid as delicate, succulent, easily digested a little dish as can well be desired, though lacking a true gamey flavour. As many as two hundred thousand are brought in a month to Leadenhall Market during the season. Such great quantities have been captured in the Isle of Capri, near Naples, as to afford the Bishop the chief part of his revenue, and distinguish him as the Bishop of Quail. The most approved way of cooking a quail is to envelop it in a very thin slice of bacon, tie it up in a large vine leaf, and then roast it; or again, en papillote, in a paper case. Also a cold quail pie is a capital dish for persons in good health.
"He that feeds never on worse meat than quails, And with choice dainty pleaseth appetite, Will never have great lust to gnaw his nails, Or in a coarse, thin diet take delight".
The quail is a clean, plump bird, feeding at night on insects and seeds. It abounds at the Cape in October and November, being generally cooked there in a baking pot, or made into a curry. The flavour of a quail is very volatile, and whenever it is brought into contact with liquid the perfume evaporates, and is lost. Sicilian quails, sent alive to this country, are fattened en route on hemp seed, and ground corn soaked in oil.