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Outdoors

Posted: Tuesday, January 12, 2010

During my many outdoor adventures throughout the United States I have always been amazed how each group of people adapted to the many different parts of the country that they live in. The food on their tables often times was simply the food that was available at the time. For example, I once skinned out a rattlesnake in Texas because someone wanted to eat it. I also know that among the Mexican people there they have a craving for armadillo.

I know that morning doves are hunted all over the country and are very popular as a game bird and also on the table. In Wisconsin some people viewed the morning dove as a symbol of peace and fought tooth and nail to prevent hunters from shooting them. But yet I know of many meals that were eaten by hunters who shot barn pigeons or caught them at night with fish nets in hay mows.

I personally have eaten both but think the morning dove despite being a whole lot smaller than the barn pigeon as the better tasting bird. Also in the Midwest cottontail rabbits and squirrels have provided many meals for those in the badger state. Raccoon, beaver and even muskrat are eaten by some as well as nearly every kind of fish they can catch. Black suckers were caught while spawning in the spring and many people canned them with a ketchup mixture in an attempt to make them taste like salmon.

While traveling and fishing through South Dakota I saw a lot of small town cafes offering carp sandwiches especially the bars. Maybe it is an acquired taste and yes having a few beers first might just possible make it taste a little better! Yes I have eaten carp and no it is not my favorite food although I have had some pretty good tasting smoked carp.

Alligator gar is mainly caught for sport but some people even eat these fish too. In the south one gar fisherman once testified in In-Fishermen magazine that they taste somewhere in between carp and pig droppings! Certainly not something I would trade our Alaska fish for even though I am sure they would be fun to catch.

In many parts of the country cat fish is a very popular food found on many tables despite the fact they are not ever going to win any beauty contest and have spines on their fins that can leave you with a very painful poke if not handled properly. Turtles are also eaten throughout the lower 48 and snapping turtles have 7 different flavored meats in them.

I have waged wars on the possums of Wisconsin to keep them from harvesting too many of my chickens but never had the nerve to eat one of these disgusting looking creatures even though the people of the south love them. They reminded me of a giant rat! I also know several people who have eaten porcupines and woodchucks but personally I never ate any of them either.

I think perhaps at times people learned to eat most anything they could find especially during rough times. I am also sure that some of these first time meals were really disastrous until people learned how to properly take care of them as well as cooking them. I also think for many people one bad meal was the reason they never tried some of these types of food again.

Here in Alaska we have a very large variety of food available throughout the state and in seconds you can find a variety of recipes on the internet for most anything. You no longer have to be the first to try cooking anything as today someone else has already prepared that meal and left you a recipe to go by.

I read that the early Alaskan trappers made bear fat and blueberry desert for the Russian fur buyers as a special treat for these people but that the Russians did not like it very well. I think personally this would be one time I would have to side with the Russians instead of our some of our early settlers. Or perhaps I could order my own dessert, "Yes give me the blueberries but hold the bear fat!"

Yes we all have different tastes and I know many people like moose nose soup as well as those who crave boiled moose tongue as a sandwich meat. I have eaten moose and beef tongue prepared several different ways but again it simply does not compete with a nice rib-eye steak or some home raised grilled chicken. I also prefer fresh fish over many of the things I listed above.

There is a story about a tourist that was traveling throughout Alaska and as he walked into the caf of a very remote village the waitress said "Sir it is your lucky day!" He replied with a puzzled look on his face "Why is that?" The waitress looked him straight in the eye and proudly exclaimed "Because today we are offering our special moose tongue soup!" The tourist replied with an ill look on his face "I'm not eating anything that came out of an animal's mouth!" "Give me two eggs over easy! See you next week!



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