Bird’s Eye View on Extinction

by Bill Kwan
event date: Jan 15 2014 @ AGO Jackman Hall

Thank you goes out to Laura Banks News Officer and Communications of The AGO.‎ The AGO/Jackman Hall was filled with avid bird enthusist on Wed. Jan 15 2014 . Canada of the  late 1800s was a big fan of pigeon pie and it was one of the most common dishes of the times. Made from the passenger pigeon, at the time the most common bird in North America that numbered in the billions, this popular dish provided readily available and a hearty meal The Quebecois tourtière was originally been made with passenger pigeon meat. However, because of over-hunting and habitat destruction the passenger pigeon was wiped out, and has now been extinct since 1914. The last bird, “Martha,” died in the Cincinnati Zoo.

FRANK‘s executive chef, Jeff Dueck, and current artist-in-residence, Sara Angelucci, conceived of this pie with a number of things in mind: to create a vegetarian dish that spoke about the bird’s absence, with an emphasis on local  ingredients and with elements that reference things the bird itself might have eaten, like seeds and nuts. The chef created a savoury dish using a variety of lentils, mushrooms, chestnuts, pine nuts and fresh herbs. The puff-pastry crust beared the mark of the absent bird; the cookie cutter, created by Angelucci, is an exact silhouette of a passenger pigeon that she photographed in the Royal Ontario Museum’s ornithology collection.
Angelucci and AGO curator of Canadian Art, Andrew Hunter; writer and historian Matthew Brower; Mark Peck, Royal Ontario Museum Ornithology Technician; and Bridget Stutchbury, author and Professor of Ornithology at York University discussed  the extinction and endangerment of North American birds as well as art and society’s relationship with the natural environment. The talk was followed by a three-course meal in FRANK, prepared by Chef Dueck and featuring the pigeon-less pie

Pigeon-less Pie
Yields 10 portions
1 cup onions, finely diced
1 cup carrots, finely diced
1 cup celery stalk, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry red lentils, soaked overnight and precooked
1 cup dry green lentils, soaked overnight and precooked
1 cup dry brown lentils, soaked overnight and precooked
4 cups mushrooms, sliced and chopped
1/2 cup chestnut puree or chopped whole chestnuts
1 bunch sage, cut into chiffonade
1/2 bunch parsley, cut into chiffonade
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup roasted pinenuts
1 piece puff pastry
1 egg
100 ml (a little less than 1/2 cup) olive oil
Heat pan, add olive oil, then cook onions, garlic, celery and carrots. Add mushrooms, garlic and eggplant. Add cooked lentils, chestnuts, herbs
and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cut out bird shape first, wash with egg yolk mixed with 35% cream, place on dish to bake.