It would be not entirely incorrect to say that in 2018 blindfolded bird stuff was a thing. In April, the TV show Billions gave us a glimpse of what it’s like to eat an ortolan, a bird so rare, and so illegal, that rich people apparently consume in with a napkin over their head so that God will not witness the sin of their indulgence. A few months later, we were treated to the exact same scenario played out on HBO’s Succession. Then, in December, there was Bird Box, a film I have not seen that is strongly associated with birds and blindfolding oneself—and, now, hospitalization.
If a recent Eater article is to be believed, the trend is reversing: 2019 will be the year of seeing the bird. All of it. Like the dead birds one finds fallen to ruin upon city sidewalks, but on your plate, maybe with feathers, maybe not. The point is to evoke the bird as it was in life, which makes it seem all the more dead.
Strategies vary. Copenhagen culinary destination Noma’s menu recently included a fried mallard wing with feathers and arctic thyme salt. Perhaps worse was the duck brain served with duck beak so that guests might experience the vicarious joys of being trapped in a park with no food stands.
At Coi, in San Francisco, diners were served mallard garnished with feathered wings in what appears to be a bath milk.
Chicago restaurant Smyth served dirge of bird for dinner.
These are all dining establishments that put out complicated food; I’m sure their paths toward serving bird-that-just-looks-like-bird were more tortuous than the finished product implies. But this food trend’s capacity to catch on resides in its simplicity. What initially just seemed like more bird is in fact also, from a diner’s standpoint, more effort, more money, and more feet. I imagine that could also be delicious, sensuous, stamina-inducing, and, who knows, Squab Served With Its Own Funeral Pyre might cause some to abandon meat all together.