Why is a chicken’s posterior called a “parson’s nose”?



The chicken is one of the most commonly consumed birds in the world, and its various parts are used in a variety of dishes. One of the most intriguing terms associated with the chicken is the “parson’s nose,” which refers to the bird’s posterior. Despite its unusual name, the parson’s nose is a commonly consumed part of the chicken, and it has a rich history and cultural significance.

The Origin of the Term

The origin of the term “parson’s nose” is somewhat unclear, but there are a few theories as to how it came about. One theory is that it derives from the French term “poulet-ris,” which means “roasted chicken.” In French, “ris” is also used to refer to the thymus gland of a calf, so there may have been some confusion between the two terms. Another theory is that the term may have originated as a way to distinguish the posterior of a chicken from that of other birds, such as ducks or geese.

Historical References to “Parson’s Nose”

The term “parson’s nose” has been used in English literature for several centuries. Shakespeare, for example, makes reference to the parson’s nose in his play “Henry IV, Part II,” when Falstaff says, “I’ll have a capon lined with garlic, and then roasted; and the parson’s nose stuck in his breast.” The term is also used in the 18th-century novel “Tom Jones” by Henry Fielding, where it is described as “that part of a roasted or boiled fowl which, being nearest to the rump, is the least valuable.”

The Role of the Church in Naming the Chicken’s Posterior

One theory about the origin of the term “parson’s nose” is that it derives from a practice in medieval times where the rear end of a chicken was given to the local parish priest as a form of payment or tithe. This would have made the posterior of a chicken a common sight in the church, and may have led to it being known as the “parson’s nose.”

Similar Terms in Other Languages

The term “parson’s nose” is unique to English, but other languages have their own terms for the posterior of a chicken. In French, it is known as the “sot-l’y-laisse,” which translates to “a fool leaves it there.” In Spanish, it is called the “pope’s nose,” while in Italian it is known as the “coda della gallina,” or “hen’s tail.”

The Anatomy of a Chicken’s Posterior

The parson’s nose is located at the base of the chicken’s spine, and is made up of fatty tissue and skin. It is not a particularly large part of the bird, but it is considered a delicacy in many cultures. The size and shape of the parson’s nose can vary depending on the breed of chicken.

Culinary Uses of the Parson’s Nose

The parson’s nose is often used in making stock or soup, as it is rich in flavor and nutrients. It can also be roasted or fried and served as a snack or appetizer. In some cultures, such as in China and Korea, the parson’s nose is considered a particularly valuable part of the chicken, and is often served as a special treat.

Superstitions and Folklore Surrounding the Parson’s Nose

In some cultures, the parson’s nose is believed to have magical or healing properties. In the Caribbean, for example, it is said that rubbing a parson’s nose on a pregnant woman’s belly can help ease the pain of childbirth. In other cultures, it is believed that eating the parson’s nose can bring good luck or ward off evil spirits.

The Significance of the Parson’s Nose in Different Cuisines

The parson’s nose has a significant role in many different cuisines around the world. In France, it is used to make a traditional dish called “poulet en crapaudine,” which involves splitting a chicken down the middle and grilling it skin-side down. In China and Korea, the parson’s nose is often used in soups and stews, or deep-fried and served as a snack. In Latin America, it is often used in soups and casseroles.


Despite its unusual name, the parson’s nose is a versatile and valuable part of the chicken. Its history and cultural significance illustrate the various ways in which different cultures around the world have used and valued different parts of the chicken. Whether it is used to make a rich and flavorful soup, or as a snack or appetizer, the parson’s nose remains an important part of the culinary landscape.

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