Unexpected Guests?

Here’s an inspiration for a quick, easy dish you can stir up with nothing more than the ingredients you’re sure to have ready to hand:

Two servants came in, singing all the while, and started to rummage through the straw. They dug out some peacock eggs and passed them around. Our host turned to us and said, “My friends, I gave some peacock eggs to a hen, and by Hercules, I hope they haven’t started to hatch; let’s see whether they’re still good.” We picked up our heavy silver utensils and broke into the eggs, which turned out to be made of heavy flour crust. I was going to give mine up, since I thought it had been fertilized and the embryo was advanced, but then I heard someone say, “This ought to be good,” and looked closer: and I discovered a very fat figbird inside, resting on a bed of peppery baked egg yolk.

Petronius’s meal was probably fictional, but Buffon, seventeen centuries later, assures us that Ortolan BuntingsĀ can still be prepared in the same way:

Well-fattened ortolans are very easy to cook, whether in a double boiler or in a bed of hot sand or ash; and they can also be prepared very nicely indeed inside a large eggshell, real or artificial, the way they used to cook figbirds.