Celebration Delicacy I will not be having for my birthday No. 1: Ortolan


Since this is a week about celebration, I thought I would introduce some interesting, rare and/or queer gastro delicacies from all over the world. Truth be told, some of these I would never eat or drink and would hardly serve as appropriate choices for my celebration meal but I am all about learning about food.

First one was brought up to me by JF: the ortolan.

The ortolan is a little-bitty bird related to a finch. It weights 20 – 25 grams (that is less an an ounce, folks!) and is considered a delicacy when eaten bones and all. (Description of cruel way that the bird is prepared for dinner omitted).

I thought that, perhaps, the ortolan had some kind of magical story that went with it – you are supposed to be granted eternal youth or at least be gifted with a rare ability to whistle on-key for a whole Bob Dylan tune but – alas and alack – no such story exists. In fact, the tradition for eating an ortolan includes hiding your head under a napkin during consumption to either relish the aroma or “hide from God” since you’re basically eating something that didn’t have a chance to begin with.

Food politics notwithstanding, the ortolan is a French tradition that is outlawed due to the fact that they are currently on the endangered species list. Of course, this just makes folks want them more, right? Illegal ortolans can be upwards at $200 each.

In short, you have to be a really rich and sneaky Frenchy to get your hands on one of these little song birds but, hell, why do that when you can eat your Dad’s BBQ chicken like I am tonight!

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