France’s ‘Barbaric Pleasure’

France’s League for the Protection of Birds is taking the government to task for turning a blind eye to the poaching of the ortolan bunting, a small songbird, which is drowned in brandy and eaten whole. The bird is famously the “food of kings,” and was the last meal of French President François Mitterrand, who ate it in the traditional manner with a napkin over his head. The EU placed a ban on hunting the birds, which migrate between Eastern Europe and Northern Europe. France promised a “zero tolerance” approach, but the League estimates that 50,000 are killed illegally each year and sold to restaurants for more than $150 each.