Tuesday, March 3, 2009

black mountain rag

Tell me I'm clever, Tell me I'm kind, Tell me I'm talented, Tell me I'm cute, Tell me I'm sensitive, Graceful and wise, Tell me I'm perfect-- But tell me the truth.
Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) poet, cartoonist and composer

my last portrait of a squirrel, I promise....at least for this week. yesterday coffee posted a comment about coming across a copy of a 1900 white house cookbook which contained more than one recipe for preparing squirrel - imagine squirrel being served at a state dinner! well coffee's remark prompted me to recall this article about the "save our squirrels" campaign currently being waged in britain. the crux of the campaign is to rescue the native british red squirrel from the marauding north american gray squirrels by eating the gray squirrels.
While some have difficulty with the cuteness versus deliciousness ratio — that adorable little face, those itty-bitty claws — many feel that eating squirrel is a way to do something good for the environment while enjoying a unique gastronomical experience.
like most invaders (or introduced species), the grays are taking over the red squirrel's habitat. unfortunately, they also harbor a virus (squirrel parapox) which the grays (and humans) are immune but is devastating to the reds.

it is highly unlikely that squirrel will be on the menu for dinner at the obamas' house these days, but given the 'save our squirrels' campaign, I wonder if perhaps gordon brown will be serving squirrel and hazelnut pâté or squirrel peking-duck style for dinner on downing street.

photos: black squirrel in lakewood park; a gentleman I affectionately think of as lakewood's very own st. francis. a warm day in december 2008.

doc watson (born 3 march 1923) performing black mountain rag

24 comments:

John Hayes said...

When I was a kid in Vermont, my dad used to hunt squirrels & we were served "squirrel pie"-- a sort of casserole that involved squirrel meat, potatoes, peas, carrots & some sort of gravy-like substance, as well as the occasional .22 shell fragment. Although I understand there's some trend in the foodie & locavore movement to add squirrels to the list of in foods, I don't think my past experiences will make me cut ahead in line. By the way, if you want a blog connecting the Obamas with food, you should check out my old friend Eddie Gehman's obamafoodorama. It's both fun & thought-provoking & very well-written-- in addition to being a great blogger, Eddie is a novelist, poet & screenwriter.

Roy said...

A lot of people hunted squirrel down where I grew up in MD. You hunted them with .22 birdshot, so the final product was eaten with care because at least one portion of the meat was sure to be peppered with shot.

Good to see and hear Doc again. I didn't realize it was his birthday.

Betty said...

What a beautiful squirrel. Never seen a black one before. Enjoyed the clip.

R.L. Bourges said...

strange business, this migration of species. Up in Canada, I remember seeing the black squirrels you show here around Ottawa, Ontario - but nary a one in Montréal, where all the squirrels were grey.

Over here we have the little red cuties with the ear tufts, just like in Britain, but I've noticed a couple of bigger, chunkier grey ones around, so...maybe squirrels in black bean paste or peanut sauce on the menu, this fall :-)

Black Mountain rag: must say that 'country counterpoint' was really something.

word verif says: forating (? sounds like a word, must find a meaning for it)

Bonne journée à Cleveland, petite souris

Steve said...

All I can say is....bleah.

Wildeve said...

I love the squirrel pics!

California Girl said...

When I worked for a Country music radio station, the morning team would occasionally ask viewers, What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten?" One listener called in and said her father used to hunt & bring home squirrel then fry up squirrel brains. I wish I could forget that...but it stays with me.

On a brighter note, I've never seen a black squirrel. He's really beautiful.

musicjunkie said...

That pic is too cute....and I LOVE the quote. Shel is one of my favorite writers of all time!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

john - oh my. well a diet with squirrel pie in it didn't seem to do you any harm. don't know if you read the linked article, but regarding shooting squirrels it said it's important make sure it's a head shot! yikes!!

thanks for the link to obamafoodrama - it is a hoot!! but beyond a hoot, like you said incredibly well written and informative. I also read a write up on eddie that she had linked on the sidebar (the sidebar itself is an incredible) - wow!

roy - did you eat much squirrel?

betty - I hope you aren't jumping on the british bandwagon to eat squirrel! don't tell me if you are.....

rlb - there seem to be little pockets with black (gray)squirrels - apparently kent ohio is a giant capital of black squirrels for the area - to the extent that they use an image of a black squirrel running in one of those car sticker ovals to promote the town! yes, I thought the blue-grass piece was a good touch, glad you saw the humor too!

steve - I'm with you, no way I would eat squirrel....but for me it's because of the cuteness factor!

wildeve - ;)

california girl - from the article: "squirrel brains have been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease." I wonder whatever happened to the listener's father....

musicjunkie - shel is one of the greats! the world is a better place because he lived!

willow said...

My son goes to school at BGSU and tells me there are black squirrels everywhere up there. Amazing, because there are only grey ones down here just two hours south!

Chris Wolf said...

Where we grew up, you ate a lot of food that we don't eat now- Porcupine, squirrel, deer, rabbit, the occasional possum. They eat guinea pigs in Peru, but we call them pets here. My dad used to say, "the cuter it is the better it tastes". I can't eat like that anymore, but Why can't I?

Dot-Com said...

So how would you like your squirrel cooked? Medium, rare, well done? *lol* Imagine that!

e said...

Wow, that black squirrel sure is cute, but I would eat any squirrel. Phoebe, my black cat is sitting to my left entranced by your photo!

dw said...

Thanks for this post, mouse. Very interesting.

Never ate squirrel, but in West Virginia once they told me about their old tradition of eating whistle pig....that's a ground hog, I think.

Coffee Messiah said...

We've heard people here mention eating it (older folks) and guess when times were tough out here back then, ya et what ya could.

Amazing the different colors, which in Ca in our area they were grey only.

Nice post. And I'm still looking for the Merle Travis/Doc Watson album. Heard a few cuts a loooong time ago and it was terrific ; )

Candie Bracci said...

I tell the truth he is so cute!
;)

Barbara said...

I loved it when Doc Watson and his son Merle performed together.

When I was in the third grade, a boy in my class brought me in a bag of squirrel tails to use in making doll clothes. I can imagine they didn't smell very good, having been recently severed from the dead squirrels. People went hunting a lot where I grew up.

distracted by shiny objects said...

Reminds me of the squirrels up at Put-in-Bay. Come to think of it, probably because it's all along the Lake Erie area. Duh...long day:>)

marianne said...

i went to a pig pickin in north carolina and am quite sure squirrel was on the menu. probably tasted like chicken.....my issue is not so much the cuteness quotient as the rodent factor, but that's just me

Megan said...

I notice Squirrel has not commented!

:)

My mountain cousins have been known to eat squirrel when the venison runs out...

Merle Sneed said...

I would have to be real hungry to eat squirrel.

Baino said...

Aww how could you eat them. We don't have any here and I wish we did, they're much prettier than the rats in my shed! Hehe,word verification is on fire tonight 'cones', isn't that what squirrels like? (Pine cones dear girl . . not well . .you know)

Betty said...

kimy - no, I'm not tempted by squirrel as a dish. And I've not seen it on a menu here - not yet, at any rate :)

WAT said...

Look at the color of that squirrel! Those are the gray variety huh? I don't think I have ever even seen one of those!