The latest episode of The Grand Tour, Carnage A Trois, has got people talking about a couple of specific parts. You will have seen, when Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May sit down to eat, May covers his head with a napkin. I’ve been scouring the net for what people think of the show, and this question has come up in almost every discussion I’ve read. So here’s why.
Why Does James May Cover His Face While Eating?
The joke is about the dish he’s eating, Ortolan Bunting, which is a tiny bird that is now illegal any many countries including France which has actually banned the dish.
But when it was legal to be eaten, the French would cover their faces for a number of reasons. Not only was it aromatic and delicious, but the way the dish was cooked was cruel for the bird. So not only was covering their faces a way of concentrating the smell, but it was also a way to cover their faces from God while they indulged in a horrible, but delicious meal.
Why Is The Dish So Cruel?
The dish is cruel for a number of reasons. To begin with, the Ortolan is netted and then caged in the dark, which tricks them into overeating on grain and figs. Some of these birds were even purposefully blinded, which would have the same effect.
After these birds had doubled in size they would be drowned in Armagnac brandy, which would also serve as marination before they would be plucked and finally roasted. With such little meat on the bird, the cooking portion of the process would take very little time.
How Do You Eat It?
The customer would lift the bird by its beak and, with something covering the act like a napkin, would eat the whole bird at once, saving only the beak.
In reality, this dish isn’t any crueller than a lot of dishes these days such as cooking lobster alive. But the trade of the bird is now illegal in the European Union due to its dwindling population. Despite this, French chefs are still wanting to bring the dish back and are currently lobbying for this.