March 2010

Taras Grescoe, "The Devil's Picnic"

I picked up this book because I mistakenly thought that it was the source of an essay I read excerpted somewhere, about the custom and the illicit experience of eating ortolan.  Ortolans are wee tiny songbirds, which historically were caught, fed until they became visibly fat, drowned in brandy, and eaten with a white cloth over the head to both trap the delicious smells and hide your sin from God.  In the essay I read, a food critic attended a secret illegal meal, and described the experience of eating ortolan.  

To my mild puzzlement, this essay had nothing to do with The Devil's Picnic, and I am completely unable to find a trace of it online.  So who knows - I may have hallucinated that part.