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Mitterrand’s Last Meal Described

April 28, 1998 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Dying of cancer, Francois Mitterrand ordered a last meal of oysters, foie gras, capons and a tiny, yellow-throated songbird that is illegal to eat and said to embody the soul of France.

Esquire writer Michael Paterniti provides a detailed account of the former French president’s meal on New Year’s Eve 1995 in the magazine’s May issue. Mitterand died eight days later.

Two-ounce ortolan birds were roasted and served to 30 people _ Mitterrand’s friends and family _ as he sat at a table wrapped in blankets, Paterniti reported.

Paterniti said he flew to France after hearing the story of how Mitterrand ``had gorged himself on one last orgiastic feast before he’d died.″

He interviewed some of the guests and found a chef willing to recreate the dinner, right down to the illegal birds, according to the magazine’s publicist, Dan Klores Associates.

Dining on copious amounts of oysters, foie gras and capons, Mitterrand dozed off after each course. ``But what brought him to full attention was a commotion: Some of the guests were confused when a man brought in a large platter of tiny, cooked ortolans laid out in rows.″

Some guests refused to eat the birds but others joined Mitterand for the special course.

Taking cover under a white cloth napkin placed over his head _ ``which is meant to heighten the sensual experience by enveloping you in the aroma of ortolan″ _ Mitterrand took the illegal delicacy and ate it whole, bones and all, Paterniti said.