Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Coturnix coelobonesis

Malayo-Polynesian Azure Quail is a stout, small bird that nests on the ground like others of its family. Gregarious animals, they typically roam in compact flocks known as coveys, probing grassy spots for ants and seed. When attacked, a lone quail’s defense mechanisms will differ from those of an accompanied bird. Most notably, the solitary quail will eject jets of lymphous blood from its femoral regions. Generated by extreme distress, this pungent secretion is (in contrast with the regular fluid) noxious and harmful to predators such as the ORIENTAL JUNGLE FENNEC. But to humans, it is the foundation of practically any recipe involving the bird, and hunters strive to collect as much of it as possible.

When Philippine traders introduced new culinary practices to Sulepawak, the demand for Azure quail immediately rose. It was the art of curing pig’s flesh in brine that made the difference, for it is now accepted that the bird must be wrapped in a sheet of bacon (which in turn is wrapped in a palm leaf, as per tradition) before cooking in order to truly bring out the tangy flavor. Generous slathers of autohemorrhaged blood enhance the bacon’s smoky zest to make this dish (baburunkasapar) the island nation’s most popular delicacy.

From: H. Viveam Constanelle, Known Wildlife of Sulepawak: A Field Guide, Mandaroeb & Sons, 1955: p. 174.