Saturday, July 6, 2013

Eat Not the Ortolans in Strife Lest Ye Remain Ill-tempered

Good Ideas Just Come to Me

Ortolans Bunting: Emberiza hortulana
My admirers often ask me how I come up with so many winning ideas, to which the only answer I have is, They just come to me. I'll give you an example.

While chewing the fat with some friends here in Savoonga, it occurred to me that blubber is the ultimate fast food; loaded with fat and it fries in its own juices, so to speak. What a brilliant idea for a new fast food chain, me thought (which is how my brain works). Just as quickly, the name flew into my head, Try It Out; Brilliance upon brilliance, if I do say so myself.

Alas, and much to my chagrin, not everyone has read Moby Dick or knows that what you do with whale blubber is to try it out, which any whaler can tell you is a really messy job! Worse still, "*Try It Out* is 1981 single by Montreal-based singer, Gino Soccio." This according to Wikipedia, but who in sardine Hell is Gino Soccio?

It's a humbling experience to shelve what seems like a brilliant idea because civilization isn't sufficiently advanced to understand it, but such is the life of an entrepreneur. Nonetheless, the seed of an idea was planted, and all that was needed was the right inspirational fertilizer to bring it forth into full bloom, if you receive my meaning, and that's exactly what happened.

Sometime later, while playing Letterpress with relatives (we're pretty much all related here in Savoonga), inspiration struck! I should explain that we're addicts, which means we've come to terms with the Letterpress dictionary, arbiter of word correctness. We accept the fact that Navvy, Drownding, Subdew, Woolcharts, Paxwax, Overfrank, and Fuckwit are acceptable, while fudgiest, pitbull, and motherfucker are not. It pays to try everything, even finchfry, which is not a word.

FICHFRY!? Wow, thought I, Finchfries just sounds delicious! I do a quick check: whois Answer: is available, would you like to purchase it? You bet I would, and I do, because my idea has blossomed and I'm in marketer's heaven. I'm on a roll—bulkie roll, egg roll, it hardly matters, because ideas flow out like duck sauce.

Pistolets bruxellois, photographiés
dans une boulangerie bruxelloise
What's everyone's favorite fried finch? It's obvious, Ortolans en Brochette (skewered-grilled buntings eaten whole)! Drench with special sauce—garlicky aoli, spicy Habanero chili,  smokey Pimentón,  stuffed into a Pistolets bruxellois—it's toasted, and we have a hit before dipping a single endangered species in a vat of hot oil. LEDs are going off in my massive cranium like flash bulbs!

That's the inspirational part, but there were still a few implementational details to work out. For instance, it's illegal to hunt the wild ortolans bunting, on account of beak-spitting French gourmands eating the helpless critters to near extinction. No problem! In the U.S., no such ban exists, not even in Alaska. In fact, no such species of finch exists in the Western Hemisphere.

It didn't take long to find a suitable substitute. I know a knowledgeable group of worldly diners, and inquired of the, "What does ortolans taste like." "Like little juicy chickens," they all agreed. This was music to my taste buds. Baby chicks, dipped in batter, flash frozen, and quick fried—crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. We retain the ortolans-like crunch of tiny bones, and the idea that took flight earlier in my mind acquires legs. Why, it's practically running away from me.

We located a chick hatchery so large it can be seen from outer space. This is important, because we'll be expanding rapidly. It's not in the U.S., but there's always room for one shipping container full of frozen chicks on China's giant freighters. (Did I say China? I meant Liberia.) You can fit a shitload (also not a Letterpress word) of small birds in a single container and with room leftover for a drum or two of cottonseed oil.

In our test kitchens, opinion was nearly unanimous that our Fabulous Finch Fry tasted just like chicken! We just don't have the heart to tell our customers it really is chicken, which is why we have to say that it's BETTER than chicken.

That's pretty much the story of FinchFry's Famous Succulent Small Birds. You'll no doubt agree that it's nicely serendipitous, but as Louis Pasteur famously quipped, probably while enjoying a dish of ortolans, "Dans les champs de l'observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés." Which is kind of like saying: In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared.

This episode puts me in mind of Malvolio's inspiring words from Act II, Scene V of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon 'em."

And since I such a very lit'ry Walrus, I'll also share this poem about the ortolans that we intend to have framed and mounted in every one of our ultra-hygenic FinchFry restaurants:

Oh, better no doubt is a dinner of herbs,
When season'd by love, which no rancour disturbs
And sweeten'd by all that is sweetest in life
Than turbot, bisque, ortolans, eaten in strife!
But if, out of humour, and hungry, alone
A man should sit down to dinner, each one
Of the dishes of which the cook chooses to spoil
With a horrible mixture of garlic and oil,
The chances are ten against one, I must own,
He gets up as ill-tempered as when he sat down.

-Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), Lucile (1860), Part I, Canto II, Stanza 27.

Though we've shortened it to the following:
Eat not the ortolans in strife lest ye remain ill-tempered.

I remain your ever-faithful and doubly-tusked pinniped,
-Professor Walrus

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