French chefs want to start cooking these rare, endangered birds again

Some of France's leading chefs are campaigning to bring the highly endangered Ortolan songbird back to the table after a 15 year ban.

The campaign to overturn that ruling has been condemned by conservation groups - particularly due to the fact that the bird is on Europe's official 'Red List' of endangered birds.

Given the current declining state of the population in Europe, we would oppose any unnecessary action such as this that would increase pressure on the species.

  • Birdlife International spokesperson

The bird is something of a delicacy in France - reaching up to £100 in price despite its tiny size.

Ortolans are customarily eaten whole (bones, beak and all) with a napkin over one's head to shield the shame of such a decadent act from God's eyes and have been described as the ultimate in sinful pleasure.

Chefs have now filed a request to bring the Ortolan back for one day or one weekend of the year to help halt a thriving black market which is believed to be responsible for the illegal sale of 10,000 to 30,000 birds each year.

The prohibition undermines centuries of tradition, customs, and promotes a black market with exorbitant prices.

  • Alain Ducasse, multiple Michelin starred chef

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