Ortolan outside with its beak open
Ortolan: The Controversial French Delicacy You'll Likely Never Try
"Ortolan" is the name of a small yellow-brown songbird native to certain parts of Europe and western Asia that has been served and eaten as a symbol of high society for centuries.
More recently, however, there has been controversy about the practices surrounding its preparation and consumption, and there are now laws prohibiting the birds from being served.
In preparation, the birds are fattened up through a cruel force-feeding method. To kill the birds, they are drowned in Armagnac brandy, according to The Smithsonian Magazine.
Once prepared, cooked, and served, diners traditionally first hide their faces by draping a napkin or cloth over their face and then consume the bird whole, except for the beak.
Selling ortolan is currently illegal in the United States and the European Union, including France, where the dish originated, but this is because of the bird’s population levels.
According to Luxury Academy, ortolan, thanks in large part to the dish's popularity, is an endangered species, having been hunted to dangerously low levels in the past.
According to Forbes, these new laws have helped restore the ortolan population, and as a response, there has been a growing movement to get them back on the menu.