How I prepared: On roadkill, foraging by the season and the value of a “tribe”
If I had waited until this week to gather the food, I’d be in trouble. It took myself and a group of eight people at the wilderness skills school TrackersNW more than a day to turn a few buckets of acorns into flour in September. We had to crack the shells with a hammer, extract the nutmeat with our fingernails, grind it, boil it twice in a big vat to get the bitter astringent properties out, and then strain it and dry it. I am fortunate to have a container of the flour ready to use now — otherwise there’d be very little time to search for food, but lots of calories expended.
The other jar I’m excited about has deer fat, which is fantastically more caloric than any wild greens could offer. It comes from a beautiful roadkill doe I helped a butcher friend process in his backyard. It was an uncomfortable experience to be part of, but also an interesting one. Laid out on her side, the animal reminded me a bit of the family dog back home in New Jersey. I felt a mix of fondness and disgust as I wrapped my arms around its body and lifted it up for my friend to hang from a ceiling beam so the blood could drain out of the gutted abdominal cavity. I had my body pressed up against the deer’s back, my hands red and sticky. I felt the odd impulse to be gentle with it, as if careful handling would somehow matter to a deceased animal. Maybe it was part of honoring its body. I must admit that my stomach felt clenched and queasy at the thought of eating the doe. It’s certainly easier to see a jar of its fat on the shelf, because it resembles mayonnaise. Cooking with it is going to be an adventure — I just hope my enzymes cooperate, since I haven’t eaten a bird or a mammal in 11 years.