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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Ortolan: Still Tiny, Still Delicious, Still Illegal

posted by on September 19 at 11:45 AM


The tiny ortolan—which I can’t stop writing about—remains endangered and illegal to catch, fatten, drown in liquor, roast whole, and eat in one bite.

But that isn’t stopping French poachers, who are catching and selling the birds for hundreds of dollars. And the “junior minister in charge of the environment,” one Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, is upset about it:

“The more you inspect, the more violations you find,” Kosciusko-Morizet told The Associated Press. Four hunters were caught red-handed and two seizures were made over the past two weeks, she said.
At one hunter’s house, inspectors found about 30 live birds being fattened in cages and another dozen frozen ones in the freezer, Kosciusko-Morizet said. The man had set over 100 traps in a nearby forest, she said.

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Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 19, 2007 12:03 PM

I know it lacks the cultural gravitas, but might I experience a similar taste sensation using one of the chickadees that wakes me up every morning at an ungodly hour? Looks to be about the same size...

Posted by Matthew | September 19, 2007 12:04 PM

Stupid people. LEAVE THE BIRDS ALONE!!

Posted by Michigan Matt | September 19, 2007 12:06 PM

I only eat endangered species.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 19, 2007 12:07 PM

"satisfyingly crunchy, with a subtle hazelnutty taste"

mmmmm, sounds intriguing. is there any chance of farming these birds rather than hunting the wild ones?

Posted by josh bomb | September 19, 2007 12:13 PM

There HAS to be some way to farm these things. If there is a way to legitimize the market, maybe the environment will get a break!

Posted by OR Matt | September 19, 2007 12:14 PM

I never thought of it that way. I guess I'd feel more inclined to run out and save a species. For the meat, though. Not the species.

What? Birds are dumb.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 19, 2007 12:23 PM

I read somewhere that Francois Mitterand ate a plate of these as one of his last meals. Apparently, the tradition is to drape a handkerchief over your head when you eat them so that God can't see what you're doing.

Posted by Westside forever | September 19, 2007 12:26 PM


You might have read it in Kiley's article about ortolans, maybe.

Posted by keshmeshi | September 19, 2007 12:38 PM

so does anyone have a line on scoring some ortolan? an hour after lunch and i'm STILL thinking about them! mon dieu!

Posted by josh bomb | September 19, 2007 1:44 PM

Frozen, alors... je n' mangerais jamais les ortolans gelés!!

Posted by kinaidos | September 19, 2007 1:46 PM

In the old days, the typical American breakfast used to consist of small birds, caught in a net, fried and battered, for breakfast.


Tip to cooks: Bash the heads against the stove first before cooking.

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 19, 2007 1:58 PM

I'm the first to defend meat-eating in general, but this specific instance sucks ass. I despise people with no regard for rare species. I'm not christian, so to me rare species are precious on their own merits. But for christians, who comprise the bulk of conservative environment-raping scumfuckers, I think it's about the highest form of hypocrisy. God made that bird, and while according to his laws you have dominion over it, eradicating it from the earth has to be some kind of sin. It's like your father gave you a precious diamond ring that has been in the family for generations, and you pawned it for crack. I would gladly shoot those poachers in their filthy french fucking heads. I ain't even joking.

Posted by christopher | September 19, 2007 2:21 PM

You're gonna want that crack, though.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 19, 2007 2:56 PM

Poe- I think we're in agreement, in a way. Ultimately, I believe these fuckos are all living out their short term desires because they don't care what happens to the rest of the world after they die. You're saying that living for the day is a good thing because it doesn't matter what happens to the world after you die. It's a reasonable point of view to hold, given that you won't be there to see the consequences of your actions. Why should you care? I do care, though. Perhaps irrationally so. And if you kill an ortolan, and I'm in any position to do something about it, I shoot you in the fucking head.

Posted by christopher | September 19, 2007 3:02 PM

I just stomped on five of them.

Now I'm preparing to snort them.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 19, 2007 3:37 PM

Poe- well, if you really did that and it really was at all convenient for me to kill you, i'd be killing you. so if you are saying you really just did that, then I guess I really just killed you. and yet you were able to post from beyond the grave. who am i gonna call? ... Poe-busters.
- :-)

Posted by christopher | September 19, 2007 5:05 PM

Nobody can stop me! Nobody!

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 19, 2007 5:19 PM

westside @ 8, they drape the hanky to keep the fat from spurting all over the room. one of the main appeals of the bird is that it "seems to be made of pure fat" according to the french, who think that's a good thing. (yeesh--i've personally witnessed them eat pure fat in paris).

Posted by ellarosa | September 19, 2007 10:16 PM

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