Ducks seem such squabbly birds. It’s a little hard to imagine them being orderly. Yet, those ducklings line up neatly between their parents for every little foray across pond, river or lake. Once airborne, they take to keeping a tight formation as well as they take to water. And every military air force in the world follows their lead.
Recently, a gorgeous Mandarin duck showed up in The Lake in New York City’s Central Park. There were flurries of Tweets and Facebook messages touting his beauty and distributing his photo. Then he disappeared. Puzzled and sad, his fans kept watch. He reappeared, first at the 79th Street Boat Basin and then back in The Lake. Later it was determined that he was promiscuous with his affections and had been seen across the Hudson. He is back in Central Park at the moment though his origins remain unknown.
The most popular duck for the table is the Pekin duck. Wavererly Root believed the Chinese first domesticated the duck. Domesticated ducks were almost as popular in Europe as they were in Asia. In pre-European North America, wild ducks were so plentiful that they were a menu ubiquity without any attempt at domestication. Along about 1893, 6 Pekin hens and 3 Pekin drakes were brought to Long Island by a man named Palmer. All of the Pekin ducks raised in the US, estimated to be in the tens of millions, are the descendents of those nine birds.
Perhaps the resurgence of duck love began when Sesame Street’s Erine gave us all permission to love our bath toys. Maybe Daffy and Donald teamed up to found the Lord Love A Duck Club. Whoever is responsible, most folks find ducks lovable. Apparently they are also a great device for raising funds. Since the Rotary Club of Aspen initated the first one in 1991, (Rubber) Duck Derbies have developed a devouted following. In towns across the country and beyond, an increasing number of official Duck Derbies are being held. Such derbies are the means through which various organizations raise money for some local community interest. If you’ve got a river, you qualify. Each participant makes a donation for a numbered duck of their own. Thousands of bright yellow rubber ducks are released simultaneously. No interference is permitted. Sounds like really useful fun.
Then there are the tables at which hungry folks are waiting for dinner. Fortunately for us, our market is now providing delicious domestic duck from Earth’s Palate Farm for just that purpose. In these pages we have previously offered recipes for Black Lacquered Duck Breasts, and Chinese Roasted Five-Spice Duck among others, all of which may be found on the website. Today’s offering is Crisp Pear-Leek Glazed Duck which works beautifully with Roasted Acorn Squash Rings.