Call me a dilettante or my palette crude, but I think French cuisine is just a huge grossout contest where no one has called the emperor naked. While vacationing in Paris this past spring, our traveling party thought it’d be neat to try some French cuisine. As an appetizer, I decided to have the anchovy platter. Now as a primer, I like fish and do enjoy anchovies on pizza. However these eight oiley filets were just barely edible and had a mouthfeel equivalent to prickly chewing gum. I had to choke back each one with a hearty swig of beer just to get most of it down. With just two left, I ran out of beer and decided not to attempt the remainder without a beverage in hand.
Let’s have another example shall we? An illicit item that is considered “a rite of passage for French gourmets” is the Ortolan. The Ortolan is a small songbird native to France and much of Europe. The recipe is quite cruel and reminds me of foie gras. The Ortolan is blinded (either by poking their eyes out or keeping them in complete darkness), force-fed until they’re four times their usual size, drowned in Armagnac (a type of brandy), and then baked whole. The small bird is supposed to be eaten in a single bite with a napkin placed over your head in order to trap any escaping aroma.
It should be noted that France has outlawed the sale of these birds, however its preparation still occurs. The Ortolan is still considered a delicacy and was served and former president’s François Mitterrand’s dying meal.