How To Eat an Ortolan Bunting

A WTF moment from Wikipedia on this descripion on the way to eat an Ortolan:

You catch the ortolan with a net spread up in the forest canopy. Take it alive. Take it home. Poke out its eyes and put it in a small cage. Force-feed it oats and millet and figs until it has swollen to four times its normal size. Drown it in brandy. Roast it whole, in an oven at high heat, for six to eight minutes. Bring it to the table. Place a cloth—a napkin will do—over your head to hide your cruelty from the sight of God. Put the whole bird into your mouth, with only the beak protruding from your lips. Bite. Put the beak on your plate and begin chewing, gently. You will taste three things: First, the sweetness of the flesh and fat. This is God. Then, the bitterness of the guts will begin to overwhelm you. This is the suffering of Jesus. Finally, as your teeth break the small, delicate bones and they begin to lacerate your gums, you will taste the salt of your own blood, mingling with the richness of the fat and the bitterness of the organs. This is the Holy Spirit, the mystery of the Trinity—three united as one. It is cruel. And beautiful.

17 Comments

  1. FYI, I just submitted this to Fark and they deleted the thread almost immediately. Apparently there are somethings too tasteless even for that crowd.

    1. Actually if you read Anthony Bourdain’s latest book, he talks about going to a secret chef grouping, where they did EXACTLY as was quoted above. At least in the movie Gigi, they ate them normally, like squab.

  2. Fark? I visit that site occasionally, and have submitted a few links — none of which have been accepted. It’s such a huge, and successful site that it becomes a little harder to understand what makes it tick.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think this is horrible and tasteless — and I say that as an ardent omnivore. I guess it just tickles the nerd in me — apparently, the dish dates back to Roman times, and it was the last meal consumed by a French president.

  3. FYI, I just submitted this to Fark and they deleted the thread almost immediately. Apparently there are somethings too tasteless even for that crowd.

    Try submitting it Daily Rotten or Blogwars, they eat this sort of thing up. The Fark crowd is a pretty decent bunch by comparison.

  4. Interesting, I was just reading about this exact thing in a magazine in my Doctor’s office on Thursday. It was talking about forbidden foods across the world but specifically in America and what kinds of things people smuggle in. They didn’t mention poking the bird’s eyes out, but it did say the bird should be drowned before cooked, and that the dish, not the patron, should be covered in a cloth. 🙁

  5. There is no way that this can be real, its too poetic. The weird detail of letting the tiny beak hang out of your mouth before biting the head off is adorable. It’s like wiping your ass with the snuggle fabric softener bear. “The bitterness of the guts will begin to overwhelm you” Awesome!

  6. Au contraire, Dan. No idea if the author of the above description ever ate l’Ortolan, but it’s a long-established tradition (apparently going back to the Romans, so I guess the theological aspect of it is a relatively recent invention). According to the poster on the page below it’s described in GiGi:

    In
    Collette’s novel Gigi, for instance, the tomboyish main character
    prepares for her entry into polite society with lessons in the correct
    way to eat lobsters and boiled eggs. When she begins training to be a
    courtesan, however, she is said to be ‘learning how to eat the
    ortolan’.

    …although I do wonder if in this context ‘learning how to eat the Ortolan’ might not have had a – how to put it? – metaphorical meaning… 🙂

    http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=205341

  7. I saw Jeremy Clarkson eat one of these on his “Meet the Neighbours” programme a few years ago, it seemed to be pretty much exactly as described including cloth on head eating. Pretty disgusting if you ask me.

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