Did you know that in New Zealand we get a statutory holiday to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday every year? In all the years I lived in England we never had a day off for this occasion. Never. Not Once. (I was away for the Jubilee last year where I think you got a couple days off?) So hurrah for living in the colonies! My post today is a celebration of all that is English. Well, you can take the girl out of England and all that…..
We went to our Gourmet Friends for lunch today to mark the occasion. They always serve up something a little bit different and not a little bit quirky and today was no exception.
Any ideas? It’s swan! Actually, it’s (homemade) ravioli stuffed with a confit of swan, thyme and semi dried tomato with a whiskey and fig reduction. The other two meats are duck and pheasant. Absolutely de-lish! That Kiwi sense of humour gets me every time! Fancy serving swan on Her Majesty’s birthday! Because, of course, in the UK the Queen owns all the Mute Swans and it’s actually illegal to eat a swan unless you’ve been gifted one from the Queen herself or if you’ve earned a degree from St John’s College in Cambridge. The college was granted this particular royal favour and had swan traps built into the walls by the river although these are no longer in use.
The Swan Master is responsible for the care and health of the Queen’s swans and for the annual Swan Upping event. For this tradition people row up and down the River Thames in little boats and count, check and mark each swan. The term for stealing and eating a swan is Swanage and can be punished by imprisonment. However, I’d better hasten to add that the swan we ate for lunch was a Kiwi Swan. These are not owned by the Queen and in New Zealand, during Duck Shooting Season, are up for grabs. And delicious they are too!