"which an ortolan inspires into the soul of an epicure"

Ortolan Bunting
Public DomainOrtolan Bunting - Credit: Birds of the British Isles by Thomas Powys
An ortolan is tiny bird, native to Europe and western Asia.  It measures just 16cm in length and weighs 20 to 25 grams.  For centuries, the ortolan has been a French delicacy.  Traditionally the bird was caught, force-fed, and then drowned in Armagnac, roasted whole and eaten in a single bite. The tradition was for the diner to drape his head with a linen napkin – some say to preserve the aroma, others claim to hide the act from God.  The ritual is captured on film in Gigi, where it forms part of the title character’s training to become a courtesan.  The preparation and eating of the birds in this manner is no longer legal, although some high profile people have been known to break the rule.