The phoenix is the rarest of game birds, indeed so rare that its snob appeal by far supersedes that of all other luxury foods. As described by Ovid in his classic account, the Metamorphoses, this mythical creature spontaneously bursts into flame at maturity, to subsequently be reborn from its own ashes. The life cycle of the phoenix is thus the very allegory of cuisine, taken in its structural instance, as it spans the antithetical conditions of raw/cooked, cold/hot, fresh/rotten, dry/moist, aromatic/gamy. The phoenix would therefore be the perfect dish and the ideal offering, paradoxically encompassing the contradictory possibilities of diverse cooking techniques, inherent alimentary differences, and sacred symbolism. Like the trans substantiation of the host, or cannibalistic communion, the eating of the phoenix would constitute a truly transcendental gastronomic act. Given the phoenix's origin and its habitat in biblical lands, as well as its transcendental destiny, the question as to whether the bird is kosher is of the essence. Such an investigation will illuminate not only the symbolic structure of koshruth, but also the imaginary of gastronomy, untainted by prejudiced considerations of real cuisine.
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