Roadkill, the Nouvelle Cuisine

I am reading a wonderful book, A Prickly Affair: My Life with Hedgehogs by Hugh Warwick. Horatio, my hedgehog, approves. Mr. Warwick is a British researcher whose specialty is hedgehogs. Apparently hedgehogs are so common over there that little research has been done to this point.

One passage gave me pause. Mr. Warwick is a vegetarian. Not so one of his colleagues. This man says that he has eaten a hedgehog, but swears that it was roadkill. Horatio is not amused. The man says it was delicious; tasted a little like chicken. Why does everything in the world taste like chicken? Did chickens run around the prehistoric world sharing their genes with everyone? Disturbing thought.

A paragraph or so later, another colleague states that she too has eaten roadkill hedgehogs. Horatio is even less amused. Given the state of roadkill around here, I’m a little disturbed.

Are these people telling the truth that the hedgehogs were really roadkill? Perhaps one of their little friends got overly feisty and met an unfortunate end. Are they the cause of the roadkill? If not, how long has it been waiting? Are all those jokes about British cuisine true, and roadkill is an acceptable part of the diet?

A short quote from (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/10246910/Five-roadkill-recipes-to-try-at-home.html): Lawmakers in the US state of Montana have introduced legislation allowing locals to take home wild animals killed in road accidents. In that wildlife-filled state, you’re now entitled to make a meal of any deer, elk, moose or antelope you happen to stumble across. But in the UK, roadkill connoisseurs are far more likely to have a squirrel, rabbit or pheasant bubbling away in the pot.

Perhaps the British are less civilized than I had been giving them credit for. I decided to look at things on our side of the pond. If British researchers were eating things they find on the side of the road, who knew what we might be doing.

Sure enough, we eat our share of accident victims as well. There is a lovely site called Dead Food (www.deadfood.com) that specializes in recipes for various types of creatures. I can’t make up my mind whether it is a real site or a joke. The recipes for things like muskrat and possum appear to be real. The recipes for elephant and camel, not so much.

According to Jezebel.com, people in the UK are not allowed to eat roadkill they have personally run over. It seems the law was enacted to keep people from seeking out their dinner and killing it. Over here, people are free to take home whatever they find. I guess we are less likely to intentionally run things over (other than cheating spouses). The recipes here certainly sound serious.

As you can probably tell, I am having a little trouble believing that people can eat food that is just lying by the side of the road with no knowledge of how long it’s been there. But is does seem like a waste to just let the meat rot with so many people going hungry. Besides, rumor has it that the French developed all those wonderful sauces to cover the taste of rancid meat.

Which leads me to the practical issues. If I come across what appears to be a freshly-dead animal, how do I get it home? I suppose I could carry a bag for the smaller items: possum, ground hog, skunk. It seems like you would need more than one of these for a meal. Do I take it home and throw it in the freezer until I accumulate enough? I suppose it’s weather-dependent on whether it can stay in the trunk during the day while I am at work.

What about the larger items? A fresh deer might be appealing, but I certainly couldn’t lift it by myself. Besides it won’t fit in my trunk. I guess I could drag it into the bed of my husband’s truck. If I were out with some friends to help. Hey guys, what’s that on the side of the road? A dead animal? Fresh? Can you help me get it home? Probably not a first-date adventure.

How do I get it to food form? I have no idea how to skin and gut an animal. What parts are actually the meat? I guess I’d have to find someone to process an entire deer.

Without a use-by date, I wouldn’t know how fresh it is. So it goes in the slow cooker. With lots of onions. And wine. And spices.

Never mind. I don’t like meat that much anyway.

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