Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mmm. Bears.

Award-winning food blogger Hank Shaw has some fascinating observations about dining on bear meat:
  • "Bear regularly made its way to market before the sale of wild game was outlawed in the early 1900s, and it retained a place in the American palate right through the late 1950s... [T]he 1957 edition of the Gourmet Cookbook includes three recipes for bear. Gourmet magazine never catered to the redneck hunter crowd: Putting bear in their cookbook means it was a legitimate facet of haute cuisine."
  • "It's worth noting that the only land animal that routinely hunts and eats humans isn't the lion, or the alligator, or the tiger: It's the polar bear."
  • "[B]ears a) are omnivores like us, and b) look disturbingly like people when skinned. The American Indians put bears in a different spiritual place in part for this reason. Of all the things humans eat with any regularity, bears come closest to being us."
  • [B]ear meat is insanely variable. Eat a bear that had been dining on berries and manzanita and you are in for a feast. Eat a bear that had gorged on salmon and it'll taste like low tide on a hot day. Ew."
  • "My first impression is that bear looks like lamb. Very red, but far lighter than venison and darker than most pork. Closest match would be the darkest part of a high-quality pork shoulder. I put my nose up to the meat and inhaled. Surprisingly, there was no smell. Everything I'd heard about bear was that it was smelly."
  • "In the kitchen, the most important thing you need to know about bear is that it is the single biggest vector for trichinosis in North America. No one gets trichinosis from domestic hogs anymore, but they sure do from wild boar, bear and, oddly, walrus." So don't eat raw bear, people.
  • "First bite? Juicy, rich, earthy, and savory, with a twang of something that said, "I am not beef." Holly and I thought it reminded us of the wonderful yak meat momos we'd eaten at a Tibetan restaurant in Minnesota years ago. No strong odor, no off taste. This was some damn good bear."

And I thought the freshly-shot venison steaks in my freezer were exotic.