What’s on your table — any unusual meat?When I was a little kid, my brother and I would tag along on the heels of our mother in the supermarket. When we would get to the meat counter, mom would ask for a pound or two of ground horse meat. I’d whine that I wouldn’t eat horse, but she would tell me that it was a dime a pound cheaper than ground beef, and by supper time I’d forget about it.
By: Roger Wiltz, The Daily Republic
When I was a little kid, my brother and I would tag along on the heels of our mother in the supermarket. When we would get to the meat counter, mom would ask for a pound or two of ground horse meat. I’d whine that I wouldn’t eat horse, but she would tell me that it was a dime a pound cheaper than ground beef, and by supper time I’d forget about it.
Back then we ate what mom put on the plate. Being picky or whining about it wasn’t an option with dad at the table. Today, I still eat what mom put on the table although I’ll concede I haven’t knowingly eaten horse meat in a long time.
When Jerry, Curt and I were cleaning fish not long ago, Curt asked that we save the bright yellow fish eggs for him. He said they were a great delicacy on the table. I believe he said he fried them. I’ve never tried fish eggs, not even caviar, but if I’m out at Curt’s sometime when he’s preparing them, I’ll give them a try.
When we clean pheasants out at Curt’s, we save the hearts and gizzards for him. I suspect the only time I’ve eaten hearts and gizzards was probably in the dressing my grandma stuffed into a turkey. I do know this. Curt’s mom is a great cook, and whatever she taught Curt about hearts and gizzards, it will be darn good.
At our second home in Wisconsin, I’ve joined the Deer Creek Sportsman Club. They held their annual wild game feed not too long ago, and I was assigned the job of serving on the second shift. This feed is a big deal in the area, and it serves hundreds.
If I wasn’t shocked, I was greatly surprised. I expected the adults to ask for modest helpings of raccoon, squirrel, wild boar, and elk, but I didn’t expect the youth to try it with enthusiasm. They did, and I really respected both them and their parents for their open minds.
One late friend who relished unusual table fare was Dr. R.W. Honke or “Old Doc.” I’ve mentioned butchering snapping turtle with Doc, but that wasn’t so unusual. Collecting seagull eggs for breakfast was. Doc also knew his mushrooms. You probably remember Doc. He was the guy who shot the hole in the float plane pontoon while moose hunting.
Because I’ve hunted in so many corners of the world, I’ve dined on a lot of different meats. I expected them to be good, and they were. In Capetown, I was a little apprehensive about ordering crocodile as the main entrée in a fine restaurant, but the croc was awesome. On an Argentine hunt, one of the guys bagged a puma or mountain lion. It was served (probably the backstrap) the following evening, and I wasn’t too anxious to try it. Fortunately the tender white meat was as good as any meat I’ve eaten.
I might give the impression of being a pretty worldly guy, but I certainly am not. Many years ago, perhaps my first as a South Dakotan, I ate about a dozen mountain oysters before I knew what they were. I literally wolfed them down. When I learned what they were from Don Huls, a college friend from Salem, I came close to losing all of them. Don also introduced me to whiskey by mixing it in my beer. That happened in Spencer’s Banty Bar.
Today’s thoughts were inspired by “Dead Meat,” the new TV show on The Sportsman Channel. The first program involved riding around in the Louisiana bayous and shooting these giant rats called nutria and preparing them for the table.
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Springtime has more than fishing and mushroom hunting going for it. It’s high school prom time. About this same time last year some of my fellow columnists wrote about their high school proms. Though interesting, I thought my own proms were just as memorable.
I went to Chicago’s Mendel High School, an all-boys prep school taught by Augustinian priests. Our junior prom was in the school gym. I remember Father McNabb warning us that if our dates came in wearing strapless evening gowns, they’d be given a Mendel sweatshirt to wear over their prom dresses.
Some of the guys should have listened. Father Grace stood by the door with boxes full of sweatshirts. I can still remember those navy blue sweatshirts adorned with corsages. Not my date. She wore a beautiful black sheath dress that covered her shoulders.
The senior prom was a really big deal. It was held in the Crystal Ballroom of a great downtown hotel. The ballroom, meals for two, and the band cost us $15 apiece — a good chunk of change in 1960. The music was provided by Guy Lombardo and The Royal Canadians. It wasn’t your average prom.
*See you next week.