One of the reasons why I wanted to have an extended stay in Paris was to be able to walk to the local market each day, browse the latest offerings, and pick what I wanted to eat for my next meal; essentially I wanted to live like a Parisian, or like how people in non-car-obsessed cultures live around the world. I love having an excuse to walk everyday, and preparing meals with the freshest ingredients available. Yesterday I stopped by one of several dozen groceries within walking distance of our apartment and noticed a package of fresh quail, which I had never seen sold in a Parisian grocery store before. I scooped it up and went home to prepare a marinade right away. When I opened the package, I was slightly grossed out to find the heads still attached, tucked under each carcass. In the U.S., quails are always sold decapitated, as well as thoroughly cleaned. It’s hard to find them fresh, though, so I usually have to buy them frozen.
The package I scooped up at the local market seemed pretty fresh because the birds retained some of their feathers and organs and looked like they were still bleeding. I dealt with more blood, guts, and feathers than I’m used to dealing with, and didn’t much enjoy having to behead each bird. The price of being a carnivore, I guess.
I marinated them overnight in tons of garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, pepper, and sugar. The next day I fried them and served them over a bed of watercress and mesclun. Not exactly a French preparation, but I don’t know how the French prepare quail and this is how I do it. The girl asked for a second helping of quail and the boy asked for a second helping of salad, so that made me happy. By the end of the meal, we all had small quail bones on our plates except for Tom, whose plate was disturbingly bone-free, despite multiple helpings. He enjoyed it a little too much.