Frans Snyder

FAISANDAGE–The French term for red meat which is in the condition which, in England, is known as “high.” It is derived from faisan (pheasant).

When it is fresh, pheasant is tough and without much flavour. lt grows tender and its aroma develops after it has been hung for a longer or shorter time, depending upon the temperature. Nowadays, pheasant is no longer hung, as advocated by Montaigne, “until it develops a marked smell.”

In Brillat-Savarin’s time, pheasant was not considered fit for the gastronome’s table, except in a state of complete putrefaction. This authority recommends, in effect, that it should be kept, unplucked, until its breast turns green, so that it has to be held together for roasting on the spit by a slice of bread tied on with ribbon.

Grimod de La Reynière declared that it was ready when, being hung up by the tail, it fell down of its own accord. “Pheasant,” he says in a weighty phrase, “wishes to be waited for as a government pension is waited for by a man of letters who never learnt how to flatter anyone!” To make his meaning perfectly clear, he continues: “a pheasant killed on Shrove Tuesday will make perfect eating on Easter Day!”

Apart from a few sportsmen in love with tradition, most people have today abandoned these excesses. Winged game and ground game, when hung for a certain length of time, acquire a flavour similar to that of pheasant.

This habit of hanging meat until it is high, though approved of by a few connoisseurs, usually motivated by snobbery, is properly reprehended by those concerned with hygiene and also by the true gastronome.

Prosper Montagné, Larousse Gastronomique: The Encyclopedia of Food, Wine & Cookery, 1961

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