April 28, 2008

What brought me to France in the first place was a story I'd heard about François Mitterrand, the former French president, who had gorged himself on one last orgiastic feast before he'd died. For his last meal, he'd eaten oysters and foie gras and capon — all in copious quantities — the succulent, tender, sweet tastes flooding his parched mouth. And then there was the meal's ultimate course: a small, yellow-throated songbird that was illegal to eat. Rare and seductive, the bird — ortolan — supposedly represented the French soul. And this old man, this ravenous president, had taken it whole — wings, feet, liver, heart. Swallowed it, bones and all. Consumed it beneath a white cloth so that God Himself couldn't witness such a barbaric act. I wondered then what a soul might taste like.

YouTube of Jeremy Clarkson eating an ortolan.

  • Illegal or not, I find the entire issue of a hood being draped over one's head prior to gobbling up this bird to be ridiculous. ...I go beneath the hood, which is meant to heighten the sensual experience by enveloping you in the aroma of ortolan. And the hood itself, with its imitation of Klan-like activity, might trouble me more if not for the sizzling bird on its back in my mouth, burning my tongue. Yes, that's quite how I would envision eating a tiny bird that has been overfed and drowned for my eating pleasure...
  • I read this while eating lunch - watery vegetable chili and a speckled banana.
  • Yes, but how fast can it go from naught to 60, and does it understeer in the turns?
  • Very interesting subject, will read it later to give proper attention.
  • Ze poor little birdies eez facing extinction because of ze Fraanch barbarian!
  • How many of them does it take to carry a coconut, if they, y'know, sort of grip the husk?
  • Somehow this sounds like one of those highly overrated things that certain egotistical people do just so they can be all la-de-da "I'm more gorr-may and richer than you."