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Have You Tried Flamingo Tongues?

Native to the salt lakes of Africa, the flamingo was eaten in Rome only by those who could afford it. In Roman times, having a flamingo on the table was a status symbol and a means of flaunting one’s riches. Truly wealthy gourmets ate only the choicest parts, like the brains and tongue.

Miriam and Phoebe would especially enjoy eating the tongues:

Phoebe and I would go to the Isis festivals together. Afterward we’d crowd into The Flamingo’s Tongue, the smoke-filled restaurant that seasons the neighborhood with the aroma of fried onions. There we’d dine with a view of the lighthouse and the thousands of ships moored in the Great Harbor, their bumboats swaying in synchrony with the lapping tide, their rubbery shadows quivering on the crinkled skin of the water. We’d enjoy the luxury of a latrine on the premises and a private dining room crammed with plump couches. A host of jostling waiters would bear platters of grilled fish, smoked meats, and fried fowl lithely shouldering their silvery trays above the clatter of dishes, the chink of goblets, and the shouts of swilling celebrants.

We’d order dishes like pickled cauliflower and lentil soup with buttered caraway muffins. Still we’d save room for their signature dish, marinated flamingo tongues in a spicy pepper sauce, a delicacy impossible to find elsewhere in the city.

One scientist, however is skeptical of their popularity in India today: “As a rule, all fish-eating or carnivore birds, the flesh of these birds is stinky. It never tastes good.”

I cannot recommend eating flamingo tongues, but I know you’ll enjoy reading about them in one of my recent Miriam bat Isaac mysteries. Just click here.


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