Kass by Christophe Emé: A Pictorial Essay


apparently not the same dish -

“Plus Babette makes this dish called caille en sarcophage— puff pastry with quail, foie gras, and truffles on top. Then there’s all the expensive cheeses, caviar, and so on.”

1 Like

I think this is what they’re talking about when it comes to the chaos of serving Ortolan.
Here’s an excerpt from Bourdain’s book “Medium Raw”

The flames in the cocottes burn down, and the Ortolans are distributed, one to each guest. Everyone at this table knows what to do and how to do it. We wait for the sizzling flesh and fat before us to quiet down a bit. We exchange glances and grins and then, simultaneously, we place our napkins over our heads, hiding our faces from God, and with burning fingertips lift our birds gingerly by their hot skulls, placing them feet-first into our mouths – only their heads and beaks protruding.
In the darkness under my shroud, I realize that in my eagerness to fully enjoy the experience, I’ve closed my eyes. First comes the skin and the fat. It’s hot. So hot that I’m drawing short, panicky, circular breaths in and out – like a high-speed trumpet player, breathing around the ortolan, shifting it gingerly around my mouth with my tongue so I don’t burn myself. I listen for the sounds of jaws against bone around me but hear only others breathing, the muffled hiss od rapidly moving air through teeth under a dozen linen napkins. There’s a vestigal flavor of Armagnac, low-hanging fumes of airborne fat particles, an intoxicating dekicious miasma. Time goes by. Seconds? Moments? I don’t know. I hear the first snap of tiny bones from somewhere near and decide to brave it. I bring my molars down and through my bird’s rib cage with a wet crunch and am rewarded with a scalding hot rush of burning fat and guts down my throat. Rarely have pain and delight combined so well. I’m giddily uncomfortable, breathing in short, controlled gasps as I continue slowly – ever so slowly – to chew. With every bite, as the thin bones and layers of fat, meat, skin, and organs compact in on themselves, there are sublime dribbles of varied and wonderous ancient flavors: figs, Armagnac, dark flesh slightly infused with the salty taste of my own blood as my mouth is pricked by the sharp bones. As I swallow, I draw in the head and beak, which, until now, have been hanging from my lips, and blithely crush the skull.


Well hello LM! The Telegraph did a nice Q&A article on this controversial French menu item back in 2014.


so…12th trimester french style balut.

the wikipedia on this subject is epic

The birds are caught with nets set during their autumn migratory flight to Africa. They are then kept in covered cages or boxes. The birds react to the dark cage by gorging themselves on grain, usually millet seed, until they double their bulk. Roman Emperors stabbed out ortolans’ eyes in order to make the birds think it was night, making them eat even more. The birds are then thrown into a container of Armagnac, which both drowns and marinates the birds.[6]

The bird is roasted for eight minutes and then plucked. The consumer then places the bird feet first into their mouth while holding onto the bird’s head. The ortolan is then eaten whole, with or without the head and the consumer spits out the larger bones. The traditional way French gourmands eat ortolans is to cover their heads and face with a large napkin or towel while consuming the bird. The purpose of the towel is debated. Some claim it is to retain the maximum aroma with the flavour as they consume the entire bird at once, others have stated “Tradition dictates that this is to shield – from God’s eyes – the shame of such a decadent and disgraceful act”,[6] and others have suggested the towel hides the consumers spitting out bones.[9]


I had to read this to understand what ortolan was, too.
I saw the scene in Victoria last year…though I don’t remember them mentioning it was ortolan.


Memorable Ortolan scene in Succession last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA65g97WJWI

I haven’t seen the show, and only watched a minute of this clip and the sound seems out of sync but apparently it was in Billions too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7fLsPWSZ7U




Oh, lord. Empires fall, but we must eat everything in a precious manner first.

1 Like