The Stuff that Dreams are Stuffed With

Throughout human history there have been countless variation on stuffing, from placing a simple pimento into an olive, to the quite recent turducken, wherein a chicken is stuffed into a duck, which itself is stuffed into a turkey, much to the horror of onlookers and passersby.

The golden age of stuffing undoubtedly came in the 19th century, when culinary experimentation was at its decadent peak, and people of a certain class would often spend several days on a single protracted meal, pausing only to trade witty banter (“I say, Frederic, I’ve heard tell that you mother is said to have engaged in particular activities and behaviors which would suggest in no uncertain terms that she is, as a matter of fact and principle, a smelly whore.”) and conduct torrid affairs (wholly consisted of knowing glances, exchanges of handkerchiefs, and periodical swooning).

One particularly famous stuffed specimen, the Rôti Sans Pareil, or “Roast without Equal,” was served at a royal feast in France and consisted of no less than 17 different species of birds. These were, in order from greatest to smallest – bustard (not to be confused with bastard), turkey, goose, pheasant (not to be confused with peasant), chicken, duck, guinea fowl, teal, woodcock, partridge, plover, lapwing (not to be confused with lapdog), quail, thrush, lark, Ortolan bunting, and garden warbler. The warbler was small enough to be stuffed with a single olive, though the olive itself was not stuffed with a pimento, an omission which caused the beheading of no less than three sous chefs.

Contrary to popular belief, the Rôti Sans Pareil was not the most animals stuffed into one another; the roasted camel, a traditional Bedouin wedding dish, is stuffed with a roasted sheep, which is itself stuffed with as many fish-stuffed-chickens as it could carry. The most populated roasted camel documented cost the lives of no less than 50 animals, consisting of 36 fish packed into 12 chickens which were wedged into a largish sheep, which three burly men forced into a hefty camel.

Contrary to popular belief, the roasted camel is not the biggest animal stuffed; the unparalleled champion dish of stuffed fauna belongs to the fishermen of Yonaguni, the westernmost of the Yaeyama Islands in the Japanese Archipelago. This dish, known as Maruyungara in the local Yonaguni language (or as Kujira-ikkyou in Japanese) was prepared annually up until the moratorium on whaling imposed in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission. The dish is unique not only in its being entirely made up of sea creatures, but also in its consisting wholly of marine mammals, starting with a fin whale (on at least one documented occasion a blue whale was used instead), the stuffing progresses with a humpback whale, a minke whale, a bottlenose dolphin, a porpoise, a seal, and finally a sea otter. At a mere 7 specimens, the Maruyungara cannot hope to compete with the Rôti Sans Pareil in terms of variety, but with an overall length of roughly 88 feet (27 meters) and average weight of 150,000 pounds (70,000 kilograms), it certainly wins in terms of size, and provides a very reasonable explanation as to why the citizens of Yonaguni have historically had the highest cholesterol averages ever recorded in the world.