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Feeding Times at Edible

February 18, 2012

Feeding Times Special: Vegan Ortolan

The Center for Genomic Gastronomy curated the current exhibition at the Science Gallery, EDIBLE. We were really excited about getting visitors to experience parts of the exhibition through taste – one of the senses that is often disregarded in exhibitions.

To bring this component to life we commissioned culinary extraordinaire Heather K. Julius (who also runs the Special Snowflake Studio) to develop recipes, challenging her to create dishes such as the Vegan Ortolan. It was an inspiring collaboration and you can find all of Heather’s recipes for edible, as well as recipes from other foodies, chefs and scientists on the Science Gallery website.

The feeding times will run twice daily for the duration of the exhibition, serving a new recipe every three days. Today was the first day for Vegan Ortolan.


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.

Edible Specials blackboard
The feeding time specials change every three days for the duration of the exhibition. Here is Conor updating the times for today.

feeding time 1
The nests are ready and the Eaters are taking their seats.

Enguerran, head chef for the exhibition is plating the vegan ortolan.

The dish is traditionally eaten with a cloth over your head – to keep the aromas in and to hide your shame from God.

vegan ortolan
The Fig symbolises the head and beak, while the body is represented by a tofu pocket.


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