What’s the difference between dove and pigeon? “Speaking ornithologically,” says judybird, “there are a number of species of wild doves, and also many wild pigeons.” But, says Sam Fujisaka, the doves that are commonly eaten are hunted in the wild, whereas culinarily a “pigeon” is usually a much larger bird bred and farm-raised specifically for eating—especially a squab, a young pigeon raised to be eaten at about four weeks and 12 to 24 ounces. “You probably need to know a hunter to get dove,” says Sam Fujisaka. “City pigeons—or flying rats—come in a range of colors from black to blue to greenish. One could eat city pigeons, but that may be one thing I would turn down.”
The kind of wild dove that is usually hunted for meat is tiny, with brownish-gray feathers. “Generally you just breast them; a breast is about bite size,” says Veggo. “An hour marinade in a teriyaki sauce, then onto a grill over mesquite, and you’re good to go.” James Cristinian likes them wrapped in bacon and baked.
Farm-raised pigeon features in cuisines from Chinese to French. KevinB likes the Chinese dish of deep-fried pigeon with a coating of five-spice powder. “As an appetizer, it’s generally one per person, and you eat everything except the head (although some do bite that, but I couldn’t),” he says. “You get a couple of legs, breasts which are good for a couple of bites each, and the tiny wings—well you just crunch through those, bones and all.” Asian markets and stores like Whole Foods are good bets for buying the birds.
Board Link: dove v. pigeon—defining, finding