vermin for dinner

My dad wonderfully stocks our freezer with meat- venison and pheasant which we enjoy throughout the year. Venison chili, pheasant pot pie and all kinds of things that we make from wild game help us to cut down on the meat we buy from the supermarket. I’d like to say that it’s because we’re altruistic about not buying meat from factory farms, and it is in part from our growing awareness about the horrors of the ways animals are treated on these farms. But we also greatly enjoy the fact that the only cost it was to us was the effort of Dave helping my dad to skin the deer and process the meat. I try to stay out of the kitchen when this happens, it just grosses me out too much. Though I grew up in a family with a dad that is a hunter, I really don’t enjoy the process of cooking meat though I do enjoy consuming it in moderation.

On a Friday night awhile ago Dave took what he thought was a pheasant out of our freezer to cook in the crockpot all day. The savory scent of the meat mixed with bay leaves, celery and pepper wafted through the house as the “bird” simmered in it’s juices. I came downstairs from my office to get some coffee  right as Dave was lifting the meat out of the crockpot to debone. It didn’t have wings like a pheasant should. The body wasn’t plump like a pheasant. It was long and skinny with four legs. As Dave held the wiry piece of cooked meat between the tongs it dawned on us that it was not a pheasant, it was a squirrel.

apparently celebrity chefs are now using squirrel meat. times is tough people.

We briefly debated about whether to eat it while Dave held the fully cooked squirrel mid-air in the kitchen tongs. This debate lasted about 30 seconds before he threw the wiry piece of meat into the trash and and began discussing what else we could have for dinner.

Though I’m fairly adventurous when it comes to what I eat, I just couldn’t bring myself to stomach a creature that I could see climbing the trees in my backyard while I ate it. I think this is the same reason I couldn’t eat fish growing up- I didn’t like the idea that I swam with what I ate. Also, my dad traumatized me with a fish when I was little. He had gone ice fishing and was “teaching” me, his sweet, chubby-cheeked blond three year old daughter how to filet a fish. As he grabbed one of the half-frozen fish from his bucket it started flopping around in front of my face as I stood between my dads arms on a step-stool.  Standing there in my red footie jammies, I started screaming and squirming to get down but my dad simply grabbed the fish that was in front of my face, slit under it’s gills and it stopped flopping around. Since then, no matter how many camping trips with fresh perch cooked over the fire, no matter how many Friday night whitefish dinners are offered at restaurant, I just can’t bring myself to eat fish.

Fish, I will never say to you "get in my belly."

What are some odd things that you’ve eaten? This is probably one of the more tame things I’ve had/or thought about having. I’m sure there are some good stories about being in other countries that people have about cross-cultural dining experiences! Do share!





  • Deb Collins

    I’ve eaten rabbit at the Polish restaurant in my mother’s hometown, and curried goat in Jamaica. My husband and kids have eaten alligator in Florida, and maybe snake, though I can’t remember for sure about the snake.

    But the real question is: what have we eaten without knowing it? I remember this old sketch they did on SNL years ago where a guy meets his guardian angel after he dies. He asks him a bunch of questions, since the angel has always been watching him and knows everything he has done, and the angel patiently answers them. Then he asks, “What’s the grossest thing I ever ate?” and the angel shakes his head, refusing to answer, replying, “You couldn’t handle it.”

  • Lisa

    My standard weird food story is Oguduk – it’s basically fish ice cream, made of fish, sugar, crisco, and berries. I had it in a small Alaskan village a few years ago. I actually really dislike fish, but I have a policy of trying everything once, so I took a bite. It was surprisingly good, but I was pretty much done with it by the third bite.

    When my grandma moved to assisted living a few years ago, we wound up taking a lot of meat from her freezer. The only thing I refused to eat was labeled “Plath’s End.” I had just read “The Bell Jar” and couldn’t bring myself to eat it.

  • Doyle

    Well, horse testicles would be the most taboo… they were delicious.

    Sea Cucumber soup would be the most exotic… If you like cartilaginous nodules in cold, clear slime, then you might enjoy that. I didn’t.

    A chipmonksaute’d in butter with salt and pepper over a campfire woud be the cutest. It was tender, mild and suculant. Similar to squirel, but better.

    A snapping turtle that a neighbor kid and I caught and had his Mom made into soup would be the most reptilian. Yummy. I gotta get me another.

    Now, I’m hungry… You didn’t really throw that squirel out, did you?

  • Kate

    Jess, I’m confused as to how a squirrel ended up in your freezer for you to eat without your knowing it. If Dave helps prep the meet your Dad brings, how did he miss that? Just curious.
    Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything weird. I just can’t do it. I’m not adventurous at all and I’m totally fine with that. Andy ate black ink squid spaghetti in Japan a few years ago (the sauce is made from the squid ink, and the squid tentacles are mixed in with the spaghetti noodles)…for being a picky eater he’s much braver than I am.

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