Mostly Martha – Roasted Pigeon

Mostly Martha is a German romantic comedy drama film about a workaholic chef who is forced to adjust to major changes in her personal and professional life that are beyond her control.

Sandra Nettelbeck spins this gentle drama about how a child’s presence can change the lives of the most shy and career-minded of adults. Martha (Martina Gedeck) is the chef of a popular Hamburg eatery who fusses and obsesses over each dish before it leaves the kitchen. The demands of her job and her natural shyness keep her from breaking out of her routine to meet new people. When her sister suddenly dies in a car accident, Martha adopts Lina, her eight-year-old niece. Martha’s life soon completely changes — not only must she adjust herself to new parental role, but she must help Lina deal with her grief over the loss of her mother. Martha gets unexpected help from Mario, Martha’s hunky new sous chef, who is not only a whiz on the chopping block but knows sundry magic tricks and jokes to keep Lina’s spirits afloat. Just as Martha starts to grow attached to the girl, however, the possibility of Lina returning to the custody of her father arises. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival.

Mostly Martha likes to provide viewers with a certain degree of cooking instruction. For example, this is how chef Martha would prepare a certain special dish: “I love to serve them [pigeons] roasted. It gives them a more robust taste. A wonderful side dish would be ravioli with boletus, truffles, and wild mushrooms or chanterelles depending on the season. But you need a good pigeon. It must be meaty or it’ll dry out. You could also cook them in a pig’s bladder, in Madeira, cognac, and port. It keeps the pigeon well protected and juicy. Serve it with tagliatelle with spring onions, truffles and glazed shallots in a delicate thyme sauce. Truffles are perfect for any pigeon dish because the delicate pigeon flavor…. A wonderful starter would be a crayfish and mussels….” Although Lina tosses the truffles in the trash because of the smell, informed cooks and diners know what a special flavor just a tiny slice of truffle can add to a dish.

Let’s try the easy recipe of Roasted Pigeon, you can also use lamb or chicken in place of pigeon.


  • Pigeon / lamb/ chicken
  • salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 12 sage leaves
  • Spanish smoked paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • About 1/4 cup melted bacon fat


  1. Rub the pigeon with olive oil and salt them well. Stuff each cavity with a sage and a bay leaf.
  2. Grill over medium-high to high heat with the breast side up for 6-8 minutes. Do not let them char!
  3. Turn them over and grill for 4-6 minutes. Paint them with the bacon fat.
  4. Turn the pigeon on their sides and grill for 1-2 minutes — for each side. Paint with more bacon fat.
  5. Remove to a platter and paint with the remaining bacon fat. Dust with the smoked paprika and the black pepper. Let them rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Eat with your fingers and serve with a Rioja red wine, a California Pinot Noir or an Italian Barbaresco — and a bowl to put the bones in.