Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

crane Megalornis grus, a stately long-legged bird which generally resembles the stork and the heron. It is a migrant, breeding in NE Europe and flying south for the winter. Its distribution may have extended as far west as Britain in the Middle Ages and earlier, since there is a record of King Ethelbert II of Kent asking a missionary in Germany in AD 748 to send him a couple of goshawks for hunting cranes. Cranes were certainly among the birds hunted by falconry in various parts of Europe.

Witteveen (1986–7), in the only survey of the subject available in English, remarks that cranes were cooked in classical Rome, usually by braising them in a sauce; that roasting them was the preferred method in Italy from the 14th century; and that the same was true of England, where the roasted bird might be served with the sauce called cameline (later galandine—see galantine).