Old Cookbook: Dishes from Fieldfare Popular in Slovakia 100 Years Ago

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A 1930 copy of the "New Cookbook" composed by writer Terezia Vansova. (Photo by TASR)

Zvolen, December 26 (TASR) – Delicate dishes made from the fieldfare, a songbird originating from Siberia, were nothing unusual on the menu in Slovakia a hundred years ago, with housewives preparing it stuffed and baked, fried or even with pudding, reads the ‘first Slovak cookbook’ drawn up by writer Terezia Vansova (1857-1942).


“Fieldfares, colloquially called cvikoty or kvicaly, were smaller than pigeons and it amounted to art to clean and disembowel them,” said Jozef Poliak, who recently released a reprint of the cookbook.

One of Vansova’s recipes reads that a cleaned fieldfare should be laid on a broad slice of bacon with small pieces of a bread roll before baking it until it’s soft. Nonetheless, this held only for young fieldfares, while older specimens needed to be braised in advance. Meanwhile, some of the bird’s entrails served as a side dish.

While it seems that the fiddly job of preparing a fieldfare wouldn’t be worth it, the bird was much sought after, as its diet in winter prominently featured juniper berries, which lend a peculiar taste to its meat.

“In the exceptionally cold winter of 1709, we saw such an abundance of chubby fieldfares that one who didn’t see it, could hardly imagine this,” wrote Matthias Bel, a Slovak polymath, who lived the 17th and 18th centuries.

“Many barrels full of fieldfares, which were preserved frozen due to the cold, were then sent to Vienna,” wrote Bel.