Surprisingly filling.
January 27, 2012 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Where did I read/hear about this in the last few months: Charles de Gaulle's last meal, which included a tiny bird eaten whole.

Details I can remember are as follows:

- Charles de Gaulle had a sumptuous, multicourse feast for his last meal, of which the tiny bird is only one part.
- The tiny bird (barely bigger than a hummingbird) is captured, kept in a cage, and its eyes poked out with pins.
- It is fed a diet of delicious, sweet things: figs and such.
- It is cooked whole, and eaten in one mouthful.
- First you taste the sweetness of the bird's preparation. Then a bitter taste comes out, representing all the pain the bird was put through. Then the bones of the bird cut the insides of your cheeks, representing...redemption? Not sure.
- The "three part tasting" was in some way related to the Holy Trinity.
- This was supposedly a traditional delicacy.
- The process of eating this one mouthful of bird took approximately an hour.

I may have heard this in an NPR story. I may have read it in a book or article. Google is failing me. Please help me remember where I found it -- not because I want to torture and eat tiny birds, but because my girlfriend is doing an art project regarding people's last meals.
posted by HeroZero to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, it was an FPP.
posted by cooker girl at 1:26 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Christ on a stick. Thank you.
posted by HeroZero at 1:28 PM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Anthony Bourdain also talks about it in the first chapter of Medium Raw.
posted by mogget at 1:29 PM on January 27, 2012

Ah....apparently is was Mitterand who ate it as his last meal, not de Gaulle. Hence my google problems.
posted by HeroZero at 1:30 PM on January 27, 2012

Yes, Mitterand. I first read about the ortolan and Mitterand's last meal in this Esquire piece, which I don't think was included in the FPP.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:31 PM on January 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

This American Life did a holiday special in 2007 (see Poultry Slam 2007) which included a segment on this meal. If you were listening to the program's holiday shows over the festive period you may have encountered it here; all the details you mention I recall from this (not because my memory is that great: I only listened to it recently myself).
posted by springbound at 1:48 PM on January 27, 2012

A character in The Imperfectionists (by Tom Rachman) also talks about it.
posted by cocoagirl at 2:05 PM on January 27, 2012

It's also mentioned in one of the Schott's Miscellany books.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:09 PM on January 27, 2012

Here, have Jeremy Clarkson eating one.
posted by Lebannen at 2:11 PM on January 27, 2012

The bird in question is the Ortolan Bunting.
posted by Aquaman at 2:53 PM on January 27, 2012

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