French gourmands are to be denied what one restaurant critic describes as the “barbaric pleasure” of feasting on tiny songbirds after their government announced that it intended finally to enforce laws that have been on the statute books for eight years.
Long considered the pinnacle of gastronomic delight by the French, the ortolan is a protected species after being hunted almost out of existence.
The prized birds can fetch up to €150 (£102) each if sold illegally to restaurants. Diners savour the ritual almost as much as the flavour.
It is eaten with the diner’s head covered by a napkin. Some say the napkin helps the diner savour the aroma, others that it is intended to conceal his greed from God.