The fragile songbird weighs less than an ounce and is about the size of your thumb. Historically, it was served exclusively to royalty and rich gourmands. The procedure for preparing ortolan has long been controversial as they are kept in darkness or blinded, which causes the bird to gorge on grains and grapes and become fat. The birds are then cooked alive in brandy which both drowns and marinades them, before being roasted. Ortolans are traditionally eaten feet-first and whole, except for the beak.
Traditionally diners would cover their heads with their napkin, or a towel, while eating the delicacy to savor the aromas. But as tradition goes, it is to hide your shame from God. The bird was so widely in demand that its French populations dropped dangerously low, leading to laws to ban its use in 1999.