Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Sunbird by Neil Gaiman

Sunbird is one of the short stories in the Fragile Things short story collection by Neil Gaiman that I finished reading at the end of October as part of the readalong during RIP VI. Now you would have thought after 8 weeks of posts about this short story collection that I wouldn't have much more to say about it, but you would be wrong!

I do have to warn you though, these quotes are not really our standard Weekend Cooking fare, but I thought they were fun so I had to share them.

Let's meet the members of the Epicurean Club. First there is Augustus TwoFeathers McCoy ("big enough for three men, who ate enough for four men and drank enough for five"), also Professor Mandalay ("who drank nothing but water, and who ate doll-sized portions from plates the size of saucers"), and the food and restaurant critic Virginia Boote (""who had once been a great beauty but was now a grand and magnificent ruin, and who delighted in her ruination"). The fourth member of the club was Jackie Newhouse ("who had both broken his share of hearts and eaten his share of great dishes") and rounding out the group is Zebediah T Crawcrustle (flat out broke, drunken and yet he "ate with more appetite than any of them").

After running through a list of the many exotic foods that they have eaten including flash froze mammoth and Patagonion Giant sloths ("if we had but gotten to the mammoth earlier"), beetles ("when you've tasted one beetle you've tasted them all"), vultures ("tasted like rotten pheasant") the group come to the conclusion that they have eaten just about everything there is to eat:

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. 
Augustus declares that it might be time to close the Epicurean club if there are no exceptional foodie experiences left when Zebediah suggests that there is one great experience that they have left untried - the Sunbird. So all the club members head off to Cairo and set the plans in motion to catch the Sunbird.

After successfully catching it, the plan is to cook it in what is a suspiciously tongue in cheek representation of any barbecue that you might attend, including a Kiss the Cook apron!

I can't tell you what happens precisely, but it surprising, especially when you realise that another name for the sunbird might be the more familiar name of phoenix.

This was one of my favourite stories from the collection, and I knew as soon as I read it that I wanted to do something with the story for a Weekend Cooking post.

There are two questions that I am prompted to ask - what's the strangest thing you have ever eaten and how far would you be prepared to go for a special meal?

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs


  1. Loved this post -- I'm not usually one for short stories, but this collection does sound intriguing.

    I'm really not that adventurous an eater, so I guess the strangest thing I've ever eaten would be snails, which I recognize is not really strange to most people.

  2. Sounds like a great story, some interesting characters!
    Strange for me would be squab, which was good, and I've also tried frogs legs, and snails, too.

  3. OMG I just loved the descriptions of the people and the descriptions of the food. I'm laughing at what I imagine happens when the sunbird is put on the fire.

    I don't know what the strangest thing I've eaten is because I'm pretty much up for anything. I may have eaten guinea pig in Peru (not sure, I just ate what was put in front of me).

    If money were no object and I had all the time in the world? I'd go anywhere for a special meal. In everyday life? It's generally to my own kitchen. LOL

  4. This sort of reminds me of Roald Dahl's writing style... but then again, I've only read American Gods by Neil Gaiman, so I don't have much to compare it to :) It does sound like a very fun and intriguing read though!

  5. I have to say that I love the leaf on the cover of the book. It is so fitting!

  6. I would love to be a member of an Epicurean Club! This was a great post!

  7. Neil Gaiman is a favorite author at my house, but I don't we have this one. Shall have to fix that perhaps, Santa and I could come up with something. Great post for this meme, a little unusual, but great nonetheless.

  8. Cow's tongue is the strangest thing I have eaten. I have eaten turtle also but not by choice, they tricked me into it. I could not eat all the tongue, tried but just couldn't do it.

  9. Fun post! Fragile Things is on my TBR. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Sheila and Diane, the more I read from him, the more I love.

    Col, hope you enjoy Fragile Things when you get to read it.

    Peggy, I've eaten bits of goat that I would rather not think about. Like you, it wasn't by choice!

    Irene, I knew it would be a little bit different, but there's nothing wrong with that sometimes!

    Zibilee, it sounds like it would be fun - just not this epicurean club if you don't mind!

    Uniflame, it isn't it!

    Chinoiseries, American Gods is likely to be my next Gaiman read

    Beth, I am glad you enjoyed it!

    Carol, squab gets mentioned a lot in medieval historical fiction. Didn't realise people still ate it!

    Bookgirl, I had snails in Paris on Christmas Eve many years ago. I haven't ever had them since!

  11. Great post! I'm just now experiencing my first Gaiman book (The Graveyard Book audio) and am loving it. The weirdest thing I ever ate was when I was visiting my family in the Philippines and they fried these tiny and thin fish up that were about the size of a potato chip, eyes and all. And you ate them one at a time like you were popping Pringles. Strangest thing ever, but oddly good. I don't know if I could do that again now, though.

  12. The strangest things I've ever eaten are probably pigs ears and fried pigs intestines at a family party (my husband is Filipino) and also when I was a child, I tried cow's tongue because my grandfather made me. I've also eaten an assortment of unconventional foods at a traditional Chinese Wedding Banquet--most of which I could not identify. Sea cucumber is the only thing I can recall. Did you know sea cucumber is not a plant but an animal/creature?

  13. My uncle is a hunter and occasionally he served 'mystery meat'. we still don't know what it was and are afraid to ask. Tongue sandwiches that i took to school one week, freaked so many of my friends.



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