Friday, June 12, 2015

Keeping Wild Foods in Our Culinary Culture

[Note: This post, prepared originally for the NC Folklife Institute's NCFood blog, is hosted on the institute’s website, with excerpts and a link to the website posted here.]

Is cooking with wild foods out of place in today’s modern society? Because it’s so old-fashioned, I was surprised by how many kids had entered the Wild Food Cooking Contest in RichmondCounty.  It’s the event of the spring in Ellerbe, NC, when youth and adults show off their skills for cooking deer, moose, rabbit, beaver, squirrel, and other wild game. After the judges have scored each entry, everything is served buffet-style as a tasting party for the participants, their families and friends, and others like myself who attend to see how wild our food once was and still can be.

Rabbit pot pie was one of the many
tasty entries in the Richmond County
Dishes prepared by kids age 16 and younger were the most interesting. They included teriyaki rabbit, beaver pot roast, rabbit pot pie, duck and dumplings, Eastern wild bear and wild hog sausage, and catfish stew. When I had the opportunity to sample them, each was so good that I could have made a complete meal of it.

My first surprise was not so much that young people had prepared tasty food; it was that the game, fowl, or fish could not have been purchased. It had to be hunted, trapped, or caught legally or received as a gift. The actual step of cooking is only the final stage in the process and only the visible one at the contest.

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