The Ortolan gets deserved support.
Just what I need – a walking table.
My ginormous Book of Birds tells us that the Ortolan (Emberiza hortulana) is a bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a passerine family. The bird’s common name is French, from the Latin hortulanus, the gardener bird, (from hortus, a garden).
It’s a cutey. What a nice little beak it has.
Apparently it’s also very, very tasty – in a weird French cuisine sort of way…
Ortolans used to be netted in great numbers, kept alive in an artificially lighted, or darkened room to disrupt their feeding schedule, and fed with heaps of oats and millet – sometimes the odd fig. In a very short time they became enormously huge – a bit like my big Book of Birds.
They are then drowned in Brandy, roasted and you pop them in your mouth – whole.
Chowdown and swallow the lot.
In 1976 Craig Claiborne, the New York Times food critic, made a winning $300 bid in an auction for a dinner for two, courtesy of American Express, at any restaurant in the world that takes Amex. Claiborne selected Chez Denis in Paris for a $4000 meal that included a course of ortolans. It led to a front-page story, and some controversy.
It’s illegal to catch and kill the Ortolan – but it’s not illegal to eat one. Oh, only the French.
It’s fine to have one.
It’s fine to be proud of it.
You may choose to whip it out in public and start waving it around.
But please, please, dont shove it down our throats. Well, not mine anyway – each to their own – as long as it’s legal.
I spotted this house on my way through Battery Point in Hobart recently. A proud Pies fan no doubt. Maxwell Mews – nice.
(You will spot the house and its flagpole – its just up on the right, heading towards Arthur’s Circus coming from Lenna – see the Google Maps link below.