In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we tell the insane but true story of when Parisians ate zoo animals to survive the 1870-1871 Siege of Paris. We transport you back in time to those five months when Prussian soldiers surrounded Paris to starve the city into surrendering. The five months started in September, 1870. As the months went by, people went from eating cows, pigs and sheep to eating horses. Then they resorted to eating street rats, as well as their own pet dogs and cats. Finally, in December, the zoo put its animals up for sale and the rich bought the meat for exotic meals. The 2 elephants, Castor and Pollux were sold together for 27,000 francs. In one of the most fascinating historical meals, chef Choron created an epic Christmas dinner made of zoo animals. All this was paired with the finest wines. The very rich managed to feast in the midst of starvation.
Defeated Flesh: Welfare, Warfare and the Making of Modern France by Bertrand Taithe
Chronicles of Old Paris: Exploring the Historic City of Light by John Baxter