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On Eating Raccoon

Friday, August 19, 2011
Image Source: "The Coati-Mondi and its Cousins," by the Reverend S. Lockwood, PhD, in Popular Science Monthly, Volume 2, December 1872

Once, some 40 years ago, when I was young and new to hunting, I found I had an opportunity to shoot a plump raccoon. It was a long and tricky shot, so I was pretty proud of my trophy.

I planned to make a feast of the beast, so I took it home, skinned and dressed it (or rather, un-dressed, it; why did removing an animal's skin come to be considered as "dressing?") on our kitchen table. I was rather surprised -- 'though, in retrospect, I don't know why -- at how much fat there was. After trimming away most of the fat, the raccoon didn't have nearly as much meat as I had hoped. Little did I know that the limited supply of meat was a good thing.

After cooking it for some time, we dug in to our first taste of wild raccoon. Why specify "wild?" No one in his right mind would farm-raise raccoons.

First of all, they're a nasty brutish bunch who would, no doubt, prefer to eat their handlers -- or would, if they did not so much despise us.

Second, when not thinking about eating us, they would much prefer to eat our food. Or our garbage. Either way, raccoons have an innate ability to make a mess of anything we hold dear. Inviting them to be a part of our lives is just stupid. It reveals an over-weaning lack of foresight.

Third, it's one thing to raise an animal that prefers to eat as we do (pigs, for example), when the food we get in return is worth it. Few would argue that trading excess corn for bacon and pork chops is a bad idea. It's quite another to convert perfectly good food into raccoon flesh.

Raccoon, at least the one I ate, tasted like very old and stringy beef -- perhaps the dessicated flesh of some super-annuated ox, an over-worked creature who might very well have expired in mid-furrow. Aside from the poor quality of the meat, a certain amount of residual fat remained, despite my earlier efforts to remove it. This fat had the remarkable property of not melting in the mouth -- so that, long after eating the raccoon, I was convinced that someone had coated my tongue with tallow, or possibly axle-grease.

Needless to say, the raccoon tribe has been safe from my predations during the past four decades. I have not yet had, nor do I expect anytime soon to have, an urge to experience another bout of ring-tailed dyspepsia.


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