Shhh! They're eating birds.

Joined Apr 24, 2001
Has any one heard about a delicacy shared by gourmands in France that is a tiny little bird that is eaten in one bite, bones and all? Supposedly, no one is supposed to eat such a bird because it is endangered. My dinner guest said that groups of chefs meet in secret to cook and savor the rarity.

He and I are in a race to find who can get more information first. Please help me.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Ortolons are small song birds that you eat with a napkin drapped over your head so you can enhance the experience by smelling it intensely. you eat the HOT birdy whole and it's supposed to wonderful.
Joined Feb 21, 2001
My "favorite" recipe for ortolans involved grilling them whole over vine trimmings, then laying them into a baguette, wrapping it up in paper and then eating it the next day. BTW, I think they are now a protected species.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Coupla years ago Paul Bocuse brought in about 60 of these in a diplomatic pouch. They cooked and ate them at Le Circque in plain view :)
Joined Jul 31, 2000
Also when alain Ducasse opened his restaurant in New york he served ortilons to the press on the pre opening night.
they all whore towels over there heads to conceal there idenities
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Why hide?

Here, maybe because we have a lot of them we eat them even in small cafes of the country side with a glass of wine. Some people have it with ouzo something that kills the taste in my opinion.

We prepare it with lemon sauce.

But as The Big Hat says I have a traditional Greek recipe that has Bread with Ortlions but how should I dare to propose it here...
I mean that you cook it in the bread while you bake it!

Yesterday as I was browsing my Bread recipes trying to find a wierd one to impress Wendy, I found this one, but I thought that she wouldn't believe me... I have made this one once with my father just for once!

Joined Jan 15, 2001
Reminds me of the Filipino delicacy called "balut" where one eats the cooked little duckling(little beak, body and all!) still in the shell. I've seen it up close but somehow never mustered the appetite for one.:lips:
Joined Dec 28, 2004
According to Aunt Elisia (sp) in Gigi, you are to, in one quick stroke, slice the Ortolon in half length wise and then eat each piece. Never mind the bones!
Joined Apr 7, 2005
Balut is eaten all over southeast Asia. It's supposed to increase your "chi" because it is an unborn animal (same goes for unborn piglets). Supposedly its good for pregnant women to increase the health of the baby and mother.

When I was young, my mother wouldn't let me try them, saying I was too young. When older, I finally did. It's like a duck soup. Don't mean to gross out here, but depending on how long the duckling develops in the shell, it can have no feathers or it can be almost full grown with full feathers, bones and beak. There is also the remnants of the yolk and white in there, the size of which depends on the age of the egg.

(You can't feel the bones or beak in your mouth, by the way. ;) )

Joined Jul 22, 2004
"But then another man, his forty first friend, arrived an hour ago with three live ortolans in a small pouch - worth up to a hundred dollars each and each no bigger than a thumb. They're brown backed, with pinkish bellies, part of the yellowhammer family, and when they fly, they tend to keep low to the ground and, when the wind is high, swoop crazily for lack of weight.
In all the world, they're reall caught only in the pine forests of the southwestern Landes region of France, by about twenty families who lie in wait for the birds each fall as they fly from Europe to Africa. Once caught - they're literally snatched out of the air in traps called matoles - they're locked away in a dark room and fattened on millet; to achive the same effect, French kings and Roman emperors once blinded the bird with a knife so, lost in the darkness, it would eat twenty-four hours a day."

From: The Adventure of Food (True Stories of Eating Everything) by
This short story was written by Michael Paterniti.

He explains what it was like to eat the bird. But I'm rather tired to type it all out, and I'm not even sure if I can type that much out, with copy right laws and all that.

Anyway, enjoy!
Joined Jul 22, 2004
Oh, I forgot to mention, the story that the author told mentioned that the story he heard of a French President, Francois Mitterrand, had a feast for his "last meal" (He was dying then.) Anyway, the author mentioned, to quote, " Consumed it beneath a white cloth so that God Himself coulndn't witness the barbaric act."
He later contrasted it with, the chef, an atheist, did not take the bird beneath a napkin, and he just pops it in his mouth.
He later also mentioned :" like Mitterrand, I go beneath the hood, which is meant to heighthen the sensual experience by enveloping you in the aroma of ortolan.

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