Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Quails' eggs are sooo small...

MedievalMorsels' 1:12 dollhouse food, dish of quail eggs with goose eggs for comparison


I bought some quail eggs the other day from a well known supermarket. I have always wanted to model them at twelfth scale as part of MedievalMorsels' range. So even better, to model them, then eat them!

Real quail eggs
The European Quail is Europe’s smallest game bird. MedievalMorsels already models this miniscule game bird at one twelfth scale but its tiny, mottled eggs would prove a new challenge! In real life the eggs ranged between about one and a quarter inches to one and a half inches long. Depending on their girth, some were more "classically" pointed than others. Here are the real life -sized thing but the "nest" is not real, it's just some dried grasses I had handy to spread on the lawn!

I armed myself with a ruler with twelfths on it (a rare occurrence even on an "old" school ruler, take a look). It was a question of carefully copying the quail egg background colour, a greenish tinged but very pale ochre easily achieved because coloured Fimo clays are so readily mixable. Then it was decision time for the speckles and splodges, stipple brown splodges of paint or use brown Fimo clay? I am not handy with a paint brush, especially on a target only a little over a twelfth of an inch large, so it was a question of applying chips of brown Fimo clay!

Quail eggs for a 12th scale period dolls house, Medieval/Tudor luxury food

The end result seen here was very pleasing, one of my favourite minis ever that's for sure!

MedievalMorsels'  one inch scale quails for a Medieval or  Tudor dollhouse
And then to eat a dozen eggs between two of us, soft boiled (one minute boiling, half a minute standing) and halved on salad tossed with cress, and toast croutons with fried onion sprinkles. Plus ground black pepper of course!

Despite its small size, the European Quail is a migratory bird capable of flying phenomenal distances. I suspect it was the quail's well observed migration routes that made it an attractive and easy target for early capture for the Dark and Middle Ages tables. It could be easily netted at commonly used feeding points en route, or where it fell exhausted to the ground after literally making landfall after a long sea passage. Their migration is actually mentioned in the Bible, in Exodus: "And it came to pass at even(ing), the quails came up and covered the camp."


12th scale dollshouse food, quails
Quails first arrived on the medieval menu in England via France - they were netted and shipped live to British shores in little cages complete, it is recorded, with grain and water to sustain them on the journey. I imagine, given all this effort, they must have commanded a very high price and be bound for some of the richest households in the kingdom. Quails were therefore a rare and seasonal treat, reserved for aristocratic dining. However they are tasty and came to be domesticated in England by the 14th century.

So much smaller than its cousins, quails were later raised and trapped on manor estates in the English countryside - alongside partridge, and pheasant. The collective noun for many quail is a "bevy" and this term can be used for beauties, ladies and maidens, as well as larks and doves. How lovely!

If you want to look at a more sinister side of Quails look at my blog-post from 12th July 2014 "Hemlock, Quails and MedievalMorsels".