Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

pheasant Phasianus colchicus, a game bird indigenous to the Caucasus and Caspian region. The name colchicus refers to Colchis in the Caucasus from which Jason and the Argonauts returned with the Golden Fleece, bringing back also, according to the legend, the pheasant. This historic site is now in Georgia, where there are even now particularly good dishes of pheasant braised with walnut, orange, grapes, pomegranate juice, etc. (cf. fesenjan).

The pheasant’s range extends eastwards to Siberia and China, and it has been widely introduced in Europe since early times. There is a recipe for boiling it with spices in the forme of Cury (14th century). It was introduced into Britain by the Romans and it was probably the English who took it to N. America.