Saturday, March 03, 2007
Roadkill and Vegetarians
Skink, who first appears in Double Whammy, the bass-fishing novel, was conceived as sort of a wild hermit who avenges crimes against Nature. He needed an interesting background so I decided to make him a former governor of Florida, an honest guy who went mad trying to cope with the corruption all around him. One day, in the middle of his term of office, he suddenly bolts from the governor's mansion -- disappears into the woods, where he lives off roadkill and calls himself "Skink."Colorful characters such as Skink don't appear just in fiction. Guy Adams, The Roadkill Chef: Hunting for dead tasty meals, interviews Fergus Drennan:
Drennan describes himself as a vegetarian, saying he's got "issues" with animal husbandry, and won't eat creatures that are raised for slaughter. Ones killed by accident on our roads, though, are "just another resource".Thanks to my son for alerting me to the existence of Drennan, aka Fergus the Forager, who has his own web site and TV show.
Foxes, he says, are best pot-roasted in red wine, with wild mushrooms. Badger, a more intense flavour, goes well in burgers. Pheasant and rabbit can be done any way you like. Together, mangled mammals and birds make up five per cent of his diet.
"One of the few things that I tend to avoid are cats and dogs," he explains. "In theory, I'd have no problem with eating them. But they've always got name tags on their collars, and since I have two cats, it's a step too far.
"The only other thing I haven't enjoyed was an owl. Once I found a dead little owl and a dead barn owl. One was nice, but the other was vile. It tasted of urine. I was very surprised: until then I'd always been able to eat anything. I don't know, maybe it was diseased."
Roadkill is a mostly modern phenomenon, but vegetarians were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Here is an amusing poem by Ammianus from the Greek Anthology (11.413, tr. W.R. Paton):
Apelles gave us a supper as if he had butchered a garden, thinking he was feeding sheep and not friends. There were radishes, chicory, fenugreek, lettuces, leeks, onions, basil, mint, rue, and asparagus. I was afraid that after all these things he would serve me with hay, so when I had eaten some half-soaked lupins I went off.Related post: Seneca on Vegetarianism.
Ὡς κῆπον τεθυκώς, δεῖπνον παρέθηκεν Ἀπελλῆς,
οἰόμενος βόσκειν ἀντὶ φίλων πρόβατα.
ἦν ῥαφανίς, σέρις ἦν, τῆλις, θρίδακες, πράσα, βολβοί,
ὤκιμον, ἡδύσμον, πήγανον, ἀσπάραγος·
δείσας δ᾿ ἐκ τούτων μὴ καὶ χόρτον παραθῇ μοι,
δειπνήσας θέρμους ἡμιβρεχεῖς, ἔφυγον.