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Galloway: Doves are Edible Birds

By Bettye H. Galloway
Hottytoddy.com contributor

I was a typical Southern bride who was naïve enough to think that, at age 20, I was ready for the challenges and responsibilities of running a household.  After the wedding, we moved into a student apartment on the Ole Miss campus where my husband was enrolled.  Like the other married students, our meager belongings consisted primarily of a table and chairs, a bed, a sofa, and wedding-present dishes and pots and pans.  We had no money to add more belongings, and even grocery shopping had to be done very carefully to make our dollars stretch until my payday each month.  I had learned the basics of cooking simple things like mashed potatoes, fried chicken, and an occasional pot roast so we never went hungry, but sometimes it was close

One Friday night my husband came in and announced that he had been invited to a dove hunt the next day.  I had never seen a dove and looked askance at him.  He explained that a dove was an edible bird and that he would shoot some for our supper the next night (we didn’t use the word dinner in those days).  Then I got excited that we would have a fancy and different meal for a change.  When he left for his hunt the next day, I cleaned the apartment and started preparing the rest of the meal with the few items we had on hand.  But there was one problem—I didn’t know how to cook doves since I was not familiar with that bird.

I decided to use the tried and true method—I called my mother-in-law.  First, I told her that her son was invited to a dove shoot and that she and my father-in-law were invited to have supper with us that night.  She graciously accepted the invitation.  Then I asked her how to cook the doves.  She explained that once they were cleaned, I should wrap each bird in bacon and secure it with a toothpick.  She asked if I had a Dutch oven.  I told her that I did not, but that I had an iron skillet with a lid, and she agreed that the skillet would work.  She advised me to place each bacon-wrapped dove in the bottom of the skillet, cover each bird with soy sauce, add just enough water to create steam, and cook in a hot oven until the bacon was brown.  That sounded easy enough.

Photo via Pixabay.

My husband came home late in the afternoon and handed me the bag with the doves.   He went into the living room to watch television, and I went to the kitchen.  Everything else for supper was ready.  I emptied the bag and started cleaning the doves.  As I plucked the dove, tiny fluffy feathers started floating in the air, and I tried desperately to catch them.  Despite all I could do, some floated into the living room where my husband did a double-take and ran into the kitchen where I was diligently trying to pluck all the feathers from the dove in my hand.  “No, no, no,” he said.  “You just skin them; discard the skin, feathers, wings, and legs.  We only eat the breasts!”

He seemed a bit agitated, but I knew he was tired from his day’s hunt. He went back to his television, and I completed the task of “undressing” the doves, prepared them as my mother-in-law had directed, and placed them in the oven.  As I was closing the oven door, there was a knock on our door. I walked out of the kitchen as my husband opened the door to greet his parents.  The shock on his face must have been obvious to them, and my mother-in-law spoke up saying, “We were invited for a dove supper!”  I realized that I had not had a chance to tell him that his parents were coming to eat, but the redder his face got, the more I realized I had some explaining to do.  We made small talk as I set the table and put out the other things I had prepared.  Our apartment was very small, and I had a good audience as I removed the skillet from the hot oven, carefully lifted lid and joined the three of them as we looked into the skillet to see nicely browned bacon on two golf-ball-sized dove breasts.  There was dead silence before the laughter erupted.  I was so naïve that I guess I thought the dove breasts would grow to the size of a Dominecker rooster during the cooking process.  I was mortified, but what to do?  I knew the kitchen cabinet contained only one other item. 

That night my mother-in-law and my father-in-law dined on doves while my husband and I ate slices of fried Spam. 

For the next 47 years, the word “dove” was banned from our house.

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
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