Take the Bite Out Of Life
by Neil Gaiman
“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.” ―
Neil Gaiman, Sunbird
Sunbird by Neil Gaiman is 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?
“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. ”
Poultry Ala Sunbird
- 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
- 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).
- Remove the chicken from the oven, and let rest for 15 minutes.
- 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.
Check Out Some of Neil Gaiman's Other Stories
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Where to find it?
This was part of the Unnatural Creatures story collection.
About the Author
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.
Elizabeth Tabler runs Beforewegoblog and is constantly immersed in fantasy stories. She was at one time an architect but divides her time now between her family in Portland, Oregon, and as many book worlds as she can get her hands on. She is also a huge fan of Self Published fantasy and is on Team Qwillery as a judge for SPFBO5. You will find her with a coffee in one hand and her iPad in the other. Find her on: Goodreads / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter