Eating Swan


Alex Ross tapped me on his blog to answer the question: “Would this taste good, Amateur Gourmet?”

The “this” he is referring to is swan. Why swan? Let Alex tell the story:

“Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen’s Musick, was recently questioned by the Northern Constabulary when a half-eaten swan carcass turned up on his Orkney Islands estate. The swan is a protected bird in the UK, and the police were unamused when Sir Peter offered them swan terrine.”

Having never eaten swan and with my limited food knowledge, I almost left the question unanswered, but then I remembered the fine folks at eGullet. I posted the following carefully worded question on Alex’s behalf: does swan taste good?

I received many helpful responses—almost all of which were permutations of “no, it doesn’t taste good.”

One poster writes: “I’ve never eaten it myself, but I’ve always heard that swan is tough and stringy, requiring a long, slow cooking process to make edible and usually covered with a gravy or sauce for flavor reasons. ”

Another writes: “I ate swan once on a trip to the UK in the 1970’s. It was awful. Tough – and gamey.”

Someone posted a link to another thread on the same topic where more detractors expressed their distaste for swan. “Tough and fishy,” writes one unhappy swan eater.

“I second the tough and fishy opinion,” writes someone else.

And so we can conclude that swan does not taste good. However, when it comes to decorative aluminum foil sculptures in which you may carry home your leftovers, nothing beats swan.

10 thoughts on “Eating Swan”

  1. swans are mean birds. that scene in that one bertie wooster novel where they are trapped on the roof because of the vicious swan, i’ll bet it was written from experience.

  2. Swans live to be 20 years old. A 5 year old cow is tough and stringy… that is why most people eat two year old steers… corn fed around here or grain fed… and they complain about grass fed cattle when there isn’t anything else to eat! My guess is the same is true for Swans.

  3. sounds like baby swan might be a goer then. *heads off to local lake w/ trusty crossbow muahahhaa.

  4. While I agree with the comment that as an animal ages it gets tougher, and more strongly flavored, I cringe at the idea that corn (force) fed cattle dying of liver faluire is more delicious then a healthy, grass fed, steer.

  5. It is a rancid meat. Unless covered in salt and gravey it will make you gag and possibly ill.

    Truthfully, it is the equivalent of eating regurgitated fish.

  6. mark voorhees

    Why not swan steaks breaded and fried in fresh pressed bald eagle oil YUMMM!!!! send Al Gore the recipe he’d love it !!

  7. Swan, from my experience, tastes like rather strong duck. If cooked long enough, I imagine it would make quite a nice stew.

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