WORK > 2012 > Vegan Ortolan

Vegan Ortolan is an animal-free version of the cruelest dish ever invented.

Vegan Ortolan is an ongoing cooking contest to make the best vegan simulation of the cruelest meat dish ever invented: the Ortolan. The sheer number of ingredients and skills needed to simulate the bones, organs and flesh of a small bird is enormous. Making this simulation a truly delicious experience is even more difficult.

This project appears to be a form culinary absurdism, but the process is also a form of cultural exorcism that allows the novel culinary culture of veganism to replace animal cruelty with culinary complexity and abundance. In order to succeed, novel food movements need to be beautiful, delicious and open to experimentation.


Bruno Latour tries the Vegan Ortolan.

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The traditional preparation of the ortolan bird in France demands that they are captured alive, force-fed, drowned in Armagnac and eaten whole. Although it is illegal to prepare and eat, the dish retains a forbidden attraction for some adventurous eaters. What better way to challenge the skills of a chef than to create a vegan recipe which simulates the experience of crunching through the skin, guts and bones of a small bird, without using any animal products?

This dish is intended to be consumed in the traditional way — with a large napkin covering the head and the face — to keep the flavours in, and to hide one’s shame from God. _Tasting notes for traditionally-prepared ortolan emphasize the rich foie gras like taste of the flesh, the crunch of the many tiny bones and the bitterness of the guts.

Vegan Ortolan Ver. 1.0 by Center for Genomic Gastronomy & Heather Julius / Special Snowflake Studio