Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Slaughter of Tiny Birds, Golf & Committees (Unedited) - South Shropshire Journal 20/9/13

I’ve got a bit of an issue with committees. Committee people, a bit like golf people give me the willies somewhat, all earnest and laughing at things that aren’t really that funny, not laughing at things that really are funny, odd clothes, a poor grasp of personal hygiene and that sort of thing. I’ve been on a few committees myself and never went the distance. Those that I’d like to be on won’t have me, so I’ll take a pop at all of them. Silly me, I’ve already probably alienated half of my readership and I’m only 87 words in to a 450 word piece (at least half the population of Shropshire are on a committee and / or play golf). Mneh, I’ll manage without them.

Anyway, long story short, I was reading about the Committee Against Bird Slaughter, and by heavens they’re a busy bunch. Based in Germany the CABS dash about all over Europe (sometimes the Near East too), causing havoc for all those who delight in, well, slaughtering birds. Most recently several members of CABS have been expelled from Les Landes in France by the local gendarmes for protesting about the trapping of the ortolan.

The ortolan (emberiza hortulana – should there be any classicist ornithologists amongst my remaining readers) is a tiny little thing – highly rated by greedy Gauls - that is force fed in a little dark box, then drowned in Armagnac and roasted before the whole thing is scoffed, bones and all. To get the most from the experience, one should apparently drape a linen napkin over one’s head to enjoy all the tasty birdie aromas.

I can kind of see what the CABS’s objection is, but if you’re going to eat miniature buntings, you might as well do it properly.

It’s around about this time of year when I turn my mind to personal gains that can be achieved from the mass slaughter of tiny birds and begin to drool unattractively in gluttonous anticipation. Within the next couple of weeks there will be young partridge in the local butchers’ shops, blasted from the skies above landed estates and perhaps the tastiest treat of early autumn. More affordable than the grouse, and with a less scatological flavour, this is a dickie-bird I really relish.

Woodpigeon too, shot over the stubble fields are available now. Plump-breasted, cheap, and plentiful (which reminds me of a weekend I once lost in Amsterdam – maybe an anecdote for another time), this is vermin worth seeking out. Braised whole for a long time with peas – frozen work fine, those grey-green French jobbies in jars are even better – or just the breasts sautéed quickly in butter with some fried field mushrooms…Oh my!

Sorry CABS members, I won’t be signing up any time soon, so I’m out. 

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