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According to legend, after capturing the Golden Fleece, Jason and the Argonauts discovered pheasants on the return voyage on the Phasis River. There, the adventurers snagged some of the gamebirds and brought them home to Greece. Pheasants derive their name from this river, now called the Rion.

In the Middle Ages, swearing in front of a live pheasant was an equivalent to the modern convention of swearing on a Bible --- either because the bird was considered so noble, or because it was considered to be an icon for the East i.e. the Holy Land.

Voltaire said that "the bird of the Phasis is a dish for the gods." Food writer for the gods, M.F.K Fisher, translated the masterwork ("The Physiology of Taste, or Mediations on Transcendental Gastronomy"/1986) of her 19th-century equivalent, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. He wrote that

"Above all feathered game should come the pheasant, but once again few mortal men know how to present it best. A pheasant eaten within a week after its death is more worthless than a pullet, because its real merit comes in its heigthening flavor."

This is a case of making virtue out necessity: refrigeration was not an option until the 20th century, so you might as well enjoy the eating of birds whose breast meat has become green. However, it is no longer considered exemplary culinary form to wait, as landowners in the Old South of the U.S. did, until the head of a pheasant hanging in a pantry to age could be easily knocked off with a club.

As for quail, Brillat-Savarin said that it is

"everything that is most delightful and tempting. One of these plump little birdss is pleasing equally for its taste, shape, and its color. It is unfortunate to serve it any other way but roasted or en papillote, because its aroma is extremely fleeting, and whenever the bird comes in contact with a liquid this perfume dissolves, evaporates, and is lost."