Four and twenty blackbirds

From Cookipedia

The maid was in the garden, hanging out the clothes
Sing a song of sixpence,
a pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened,
the birds began to sing.
Wasn't that a dainty dish
to set before the king?
The king was in his counting house,
counting out his money.
The queen was in the parlour,
eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird
and pecked off her nose!

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, an Italian cookbook from 1549 (translated into English in 1598) actually contains a recipe "to make pies so that birds may be alive in them and flie out when it is cut up." The ODNR also cites a 1723 cook who describes this as an earlier practice, the idea being that the birds cause "a diverting Hurley-Burley amongst the Guests."

We have managed to collect a few historic recipes for you here.

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