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You Can Tell Young ducks From Old Ones


This is an excerpt from Le Menagier de Paris
(France, 1393 - Janet Hinson, trans.)
The original source can be found at David Friedman's website

You can tell young ducks from old ones, when they are all the same size, by the quills which on the young ones are more tender.--Item, you have to know which ones are from the river, with delicate black toe-nails and red feet, while those from the stable-yard have yellow feet.

Item, the crest of the head, that is to say the top, is green throughout its length, and sometimes the males have a white patch across their necks at the nape, and they all have very changeable plumage, including that on top of the head.

Item, wood-pigeons are good in winter, and you can tell the old ones in that the secondary wing-feathers are all black, whereas those of the young ones of a year old are grey and the remainder black.

Item, you can tell the age of a hare from the number of openings under its tail, for there will be as many openings as years.

Item, partridge whose feathers are tight and well joined to the flesh, and are neatly and well joined and are in excellent order, are freshly killed: and those partridge whose feathers lift up crosswise and fall out and lose their hold on the flesh and go every which way, were killed less recently.--Item, when pulling the feathers from the belly, smell it.

Item, carp with pale-coloured scales and no yellow or red, are from good water. One with large eyes starting out of its head, and whose tongue and the roof of the mouth are smooth and oily, is fat. And note, if you wish to carry a live carp for a whole day, wrap it in damp hay and carry it belly up, without giving it any air, that is to say in a sack or a bag.

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