In the same cruel fashion as foie gras, this tiny bird has little to sing about, as historically it was horribly tortured before being eaten as a gastronomic treat by the aristocracy of France.
Its fate was often to be captured, have its eyes poked out, and be put in a small cage, then force-fed until it grew to four times its normal size. Next the poor bird would be drowned in brandy, roasted, and eaten whole.
Now considered a protected species in France, the ortolan is also in decline in several other European countries. Nevertheless, hunters still kill about 50,000 birds per year even though it is illegal to sell them.
Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen