How to Serve a Live Bird at a Feast, c. 1450

manuscript illustration of men carving food for lord

Get a chicken or any other bird you want, and pluck it alive cleanly in hot water. Then get the yolks of 2 or 3 eggs; they should be beaten with powdered saffron and wheat flour, and distempered with fat broth or with the grease that drips under a roast into the dripping pan. By means of a feather glaze and paint your pullet carefully with this mixture so that its colour looks like roast meat. With this done, and when it is about to be served to the table, put the chicken’s head under its wing, and turn it in your hands, rotating it until it is fast asleep. Then set it down on your platter with the other roast meat. When it is about to be carved it will wake up and make off down the table upsetting jugs, goblets and whatnot.

The Vivendier (trans. Terence Scully)

Is your Thanksgiving turkey routine getting dull? This year, don’t roast the bird – just denude, glaze, hypnotize, and serve. Your guests will never forget the dinner, and you’ll never have to host again.

(I’d love to see the out-takes on this one.)