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Monday, January 24, 2011


            Photo courtesy of camacdonald.com

The tasty morsel known as
the ortulan.

Birds are a staple food in every culture.  Chicken, turkey, goose, quail, pheasant and even ostrich.  What we don't think of eating--especially here in America--are songbirds.  They just don't seem worth the effort.  They sure don't have a lot of meat on them.  And you'd have to eat a bunch of them to feel full.

Since ancient times--and still in many parts of Europe (France, especially)--birds of this type have been eaten.  Thrushes and larks, for example.  The most prized--and controversial--of these is the ortulan.

The ortulan is illegal to sell in France, although not illegal to catch and eat.  According to Wall Street Journal food writer, Bruce Palling:
The traditional way to consume ortolan is to capture them with nets, fatten them up in a darkened space, drown them in Armagnac, then roast and consume them whole, bones and all, while your head is covered by a large napkin. Some say this was necessary to avoid the wrath of God, others put it down to the pleasure of capturing the aromas, while still others say it was necessary because it is such a disgusting spectacle.

Interesting, huh?  This ain't just fried chicken we're talking about here.  Sorry, chewing through bones isn't my idea of a nice dinner. 

Palling was invited to a special meal in Paris featuring these little critters.  Read all about his interesting--and somewhat disappointing--adventure in his article, "Tasting Forbidden Fruits".


  1. Interesting. As someone who has eaten my share of wild game, including grouse, duck, pheasent, (and making a wild turkey next weekend) I can't say that that sounds very appealing, especially eating the innards. My father-in-law (an old PA Dutchman) used to tell of eating young chickens, bones and all.

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