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In Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, (1983), when the Maître d' is describing the jugged hare to Mr. Creosote, he says:

Ze hare is very high, and ze sauce is very rich with truffles, anchovies, Grand Marnier, bacon, and cream.

What is the meaning of "very high" in this context?

I found this reference in an 1885 cookbook online, but the precise meaning is still unclear:

If a hare is very high it may be left in tepid water for some little time; or if the blood has settled in one part, and it looks black, just cut it with the point of a knife, and soak it in warm water to draw out the dark blood.

The full clip is here.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The term high in this context is often used with game. From Wiktionary:

(of meat, especially venison) Decomposing, rotting (to an extent which is desired by some).

The tailor liked his meat high.

In this case, the maître d' is suggesting that the hare is ready to be cooked or has been cooked in the manner that Terry Jones prefers.

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Interesting! I'm curious as to whether this entails actual spoilage, or if it is something similar to aged beef. The Doc Martin episode "Midwife Crisis" involved a man who liked the taste of spoiled roadkill, but it was played primarily for laughs. – Will Feldman Nov 25 '13 at 20:31
High is to spoiled as Rare is to undercooked. – Bill Michell Nov 25 '13 at 23:55

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