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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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(Fulica spp), crake (mainly Porzana spp), moorhen (Gallinula spp), rail (many genera, notably Rallus) are all marsh birds of the family Rallidae, represented around the world. Few of them make good eating. There have been times when moorhens were plentiful in London markets and coots have been counted as good fare in N. America. The Italian writer Pellegrino Artusi (see under italian cookery books) wrote affectionately of stewed coot (favoured in Italy because the Church allowed them on fast days) which were shot during the autumn migration on Lake Massaciuccoli near Pisa. In 1903, he noted, about 6,000 birds were bagged. Better fare is the corncrake (also called landrail), Crex crex, less marsh-loving in its haunts and also highly regarded, after the harvest, when it is well fed and ready to make its annual migration south to Africa.