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1 Million Strangled Ducklings Can’t Be Wrong

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Paris’ legendary restaurant Tour d’Argent will serve its 1 millionth duck next week. My wife and I contributed to the total a few years ago (I thought the duck, which is served rare, was OK flavor-wise and incredibly tender; my wife hated it). The proprietor of the restaurant, Claude Terrail, is a character, resplendent in a dark suit with his trademark blue carnation and equipped with one of the most mellifluous bass voices I have ever heard. Interesting piece of trivia about the restaurant: they pay a large share of the electric bill for Notre Dame Cathedral, so that the site can remain lit during the evening for the viewing pleasure of the restaruant’s patrons.

But this Reuters story on the event sounds as if it were written by a member of PETA (or the author of the Monty Python Crunchy Frog sketch).

    Select guests gathered at a top Paris restaurant on Tuesday to sample the one millionth duck to be snatched from grassy marshland, carefully strangled and ritually cooked with its own blood.

    The legendary Tour d’Argent has been serving up eight-week old ducklings, reared in the west coast Challans marshes, since 1890, meticulously preparing them according to an age-old tradition, and serving each one with a souvenir numbered tag.
    On Tuesday, the Tour d’Argent will uncork some of its finest wines and lay on fireworks above Notre Dame Cathedral, which diners will be able to see from the window as they tuck into the restaurant’s one millionth roast “Caneton” (duckling).
    The Queen of England, as a princess, and Japanese Emperor Hirohito have both sampled a Tour d’Argent Caneton, famous for being served in a heady, cognac-laced sauce dosed with blood.

    The secret, fans say, is in strangling the ducks, keeping the flesh succulent, rather than slitting their throats.

    A former owner of the 421-year-old restaurant discovered the method over a century ago from a chef near Rouen who would buy cheap ducks that had been suffocated on the way to market. He tried the chef’s succulent duck dish and was smitten.

    At La Tour d’Argent today, carcasses of freshly strangled ducks are pressed to extract the blood which is mixed with cognac and port to make a rich, sizzling sauce.

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