Sunbird by Neil Gaiman Found in Unnatural Creatures Short Story Collection

“Oh, Mandy,” sighed Virginia Boote. “When you’ve tasted one beetle, you’ve tasted them all. And we all tasted several hundred species. At least the dung bee- tles had a real kick to them.” “No,” said Jackie Newhouse, “that was the dung-beetle balls. The beetles them- selves were singularly unexceptional. Still, I take your point. We have scaled the heights of gastronomy, we have plunged down into the depths of gustation. We have become cosmonauts exploring undreamed-of worlds of delectation and gourmanderie.” 



Chapbook, 30 pages
Published 2008 by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (first published September 9th 2005)
Original Title
Edition Language


I first encountered the bird in this story in the works of E. Nesbit. I wrote the story in the style of a remarkable American writer named R. A. Lafferty, as an eighteenth birthday present for my daughter Holly. I hope you like it.  Lightning bugs, dolphinfish, dung beetle, unicorn flank steak…the intrepid members of the Epicurean Society have eaten every kind of animal. Or have they…? 


What a glorious story. Imagine a group of foodies, gourmands if you will. That have tasted everything. Not just run of the mill foods. No they have scoured the world for pill bugs, dung beetles, flamingos, and dolphinfish. They have taken a bite out of life. They have tried everything and are getting bored, because if you have tried one dung beetle, face it, you have tried them all. But, maybe there is one creature out there they have not tried.. Or have they?

So much fun. You can read it in 30 mins, and get a whole lot of joy out of it. Give it a try. 



  • 1 chicken
  • 1 can of cider, 1/3 filled
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig sage
  • ½ tsp. dried lavender
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • ½ tsp. coriander seed
  1. Fill the can of cider with the spices and herbs.    Place the can inside the chicken, and stand it up in a pot. Cover with aluminum foil, and cook for around 1 hour. While it’s cooking, make the sauce (below).
  2. Remove the chicken from the oven, and let rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Discard the can and carve the bird. Drizzle with sauce, and serve hot.


Cook’s Notes: Of all the quirky ingredients that went into the description of this dish, patchouli was the only one I didn’t have on hand. Feel free to improvise according to what’s in your own pantry!


  • 1 stick butter (½ cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 can cider
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • ½ tsp. red sandalwood powder
  • ½ tsp. ground grains of paradise
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch of cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 Tbs. molasses
  • 1 Tbs. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs. fresh orange or lemon juice


  • Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and sautee until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for around 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened. Turn off the heat, add the citrus juice, and stir to incorporate. Serve immediately.

Poultry Ala Sunbird

THEY WERE A RICH AND A ROWDY BUNCH at the Epicurean Club in those days. They certainly knew how to party. There were five of them: There was Augustus TwoFeathers McCoy, big enough for three men, who ate enough for four men and who drank enough for five. His great-grandfather had founded the Epicurean Club with the proceeds of a tontine which he had taken great pains, in the traditional manner, to ensure that he had collected in full. 


I checked out a copy of this from the library. 


Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman


Neil Gaiman’s work has been honoured with many awards internationally, including the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. His books and stories have also been honoured with 4 Hugos, 2 Nebulas, 1 World Fantasy Award, 4 Bram Stoker Awards, 6 Locus Awards, 2 British SF Awards, 1 British Fantasy Award, 3 Geffens, 1 International Horror Guild Award and 2 Mythopoeic Awards. Full list here.

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