I was looking at some quail today in a supermarket. Although these were full-grown quail, they looked exactly like miniature chickens, so small you could cup one in the palm of your hand. I’ve never cooked a quail and I don’t remember having eaten one, but I am curious about them because they’re considered to be somewhat of a delicacy. So I did a Web search to get more information.

What really surprised me is that there are so many hunting sites listed. I just can’t quite imagine hunting quail. Wouldn’t it be the case that one shot would blow it apart? I can’t see how that would make sense, unless people scrape up the fragments and make burgers out of them. So I’m left with the impression that the whole point to hunting quail must be the thrill of saying,

He blowed up real good!

Looking at them today, laying on a bed of ice, I thought they looked like chicks. But we don’t hunt or eat baby chickens.

Or do we?

Shhhh! Forget I asked. It might give someone ideas…like chick on a stick - at McVlad’s.

Note: I've found out since that there are tiny bullets available for hunting quail, but I still think it a very odd thing to do for four mouth-fulls of food, if that.

QUAIL

kwal (selaw; ortugometra; Latin Coturnix vulgaris):

A game bird of the family Coturnix, closely related to "partridges" (which see). Quail and partridges are near relatives, the partridge a little larger and of brighter color. Quail are like the gray, brown and tan of earth. Their plumage is cut and penciled by markings, and their flesh juicy and delicate food. Their habits are very similar. They nest on the ground and brood on from 12 to 20 eggs. The quail are more friendly birds and live in the open, brooding along roads and around fields. They have a longer, fuller wing than the partridge and can make stronger flight. In Palestine they were migratory. They are first mentioned in Exodus 16:13: "And it came to pass at even, that the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the camp." This describes a large flock in migration, so that they passed as a cloud. Numbers 11:31-33: "And there went forth a wind from Yahweh, and brought quail from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, about a day's journey on this side, and a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and about two cubits above the face of the earth. And the people rose up all that day, and all the night, and all the next day, and gathered the quail: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp"; compare Psalms 78:26-30:

"He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens; 

 And by his power he guided the south wind. 

 He rained flesh also upon them as the dust, 

 And winged birds as the sand of the seas: 

 And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, 

 Round about their habitations. 

 So they did eat, and were well filled; 

 And he gave them their own desire." 

Again the birds are mentioned in migration. Those that fell around the camp and the bread that was sent from heaven are described in Psalms 105:39-42. Commentators have had trouble with the above references. They cause the natural historian none - they are so in keeping with the location and the laws of Nature. First the Hebrew selaw means "to be fat." That would be precisely the condition of the quail after a winter of feeding in the South. The time was early spring, our April, and the quail were flocking from Africa and spreading in clouds - even to Europe. They were birds of earth, heavy feeders and of plump, full body. Migration was such an effort that when forced to cross a large body of water they always waited until the wind blew in the direction of their course, lest they tire and fall. Their average was about 16 birds to each nest. If half a brood escaped, they yet multiplied in such numbers as easily to form clouds in migration. Pliny writes of their coming into Italy in such numbers, and so exhausted with their long flight, that if they sighted a sailing vessel they settled upon it by hundreds and in such numbers as to sink it. Taking into consideration the diminutive vessels of that age and the myriads of birds, this does not appear incredible. Now compare these facts with the text. Israelites were encamped on the Sinai Peninsula. The birds were in migration. The quail followed the Red Sea until they reached the point of the peninsula where they selected the narrowest place, and when the wind was with them they crossed the water. Not far from the shore arose the smoke from the campfires of the Israelites. This bewildered them, and, weary from their journey, they began to settle in confused thousands over and around the camp. Then the Israelites arose and, with the ever-ready "throw sticks," killed a certain number for every soul of the camp and spread the bodies on the sand to dry, just as Herodotus (ii. 77) records that the Egyptians always had done (see Rawlinson, Herodotus, II, for an illustration of catching and drying quail). Nature and natural history can account for this incident, with no need to call in the miraculous.

Gene Stratton-Porter

Quail (?), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Qualled (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Qualling.] [AS.cwelan to die, perish; akin to cwalu violent death, D. kwaal pain, G. qual torment, OHG. quelan to suffer torment, Lith. gelti to hurt, gela pain. Cf. Quell.]

1.

To die; to perish; hence, to wither; to fade.

[Obs.]

Spenser.

2.

To become quelled; to become cast down; to sink under trial or apprehension of danger; to lose the spirit and power of resistance; to lose heart; to give way; to shrink; to cower.

The atheist power shall quail, and confess his fears. I. Taylor. Stouter hearts than a woman's have quailed in this terrible winter. Longfellow.

Syn. -- to cower; flinch; shrink; quake; tremble; blench; succumb; yield.

 

© Webster 1913.


Quail, v. t. [Cf. Quell.]

To cause to fail in spirit or power; to quell; to crush; to subdue.

[Obs.]

Spenser.

 

© Webster 1913.


Quail, v. i. [OF. coaillier, F. cailler, from L. coagulare. See Coagulate.]

To curdle; to coagulate, as milk.

[Obs.]

Holland.

 

© Webster 1913.


Quail, n. [OF. quaille, F. caille, LL. quaquila, qualia, qualea, of Dutch or German origin; cf. D. kwakkel, kwartel, OHG. wahtala, G. wachtel.]

1. Zool.

Any gallinaceous bird belonging to Coturnix and several allied genera of the Old World, especially the common European quail (C. communis), the rain quail (C. Coromandelica) of India, the stubble quail (C. pectoralis), and the Australian swamp quail (Synoicus australis).

2. Zool.

Any one of several American partridges belonging to Colinus, Callipepla, and allied genera, especially the bobwhite (called Virginia quail, and Maryland quail), and the California quail (Calipepla Californica).

3. Zool.

Any one of numerous species of Turnix and allied genera, native of the Old World, as the Australian painted quail (Turnix varius). See Turnix.

4.

A prostitute; -- so called because the quail was thought to be a very amorous bird.

[Obs.]

Shak.

Bustard quail Zool., a small Asiatic quail-like bird of the genus Turnix, as T. taigoor, a black-breasted species, and the hill bustard quail (T. ocellatus). See Turnix. -- Button quail Zool., one of several small Asiatic species of Turnix, as T. Sykesii, which is said to be the smallest game bird of India. -- Mountain quail. See under Mountain. -- Quail call, a call or pipe for alluring quails into a net or within range. -- Quail dove (Zool.), any one of several American ground pigeons belonging to Geotrygon and allied genera. -- Quail hawk Zool., the New Zealand sparrow hawk (Hieracidea Novae-Hollandiae). -- Quail pipe. See Quail call, above. -- Quail snipe Zool., the dowitcher, or red-breasted snipe; -- called also robin snipe, and brown snipe. -- Sea quail Zool., the turnstone. [Local, U. S.]

 

© Webster 1913.

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