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Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Game - Wild - Gibier....

..Yes- it's true, these poor beasts do leave their lives

 for our pleasure....Sometimes one must feel ashamed......
Oui - c'est vrai, ces pauvres bêtes laissent leur vies pour notre plaisir....Parfois on peut avoir honte....
C'est leur destin, mais souvent dans des... circonstances affreuse...!
Ja - diese Armer Bestien mussten oft Ihrer Leben lassen fur unserer Vergnügung....
manchmal musste Mann Sich große Vorwürfe machen.....
"Huntin' - Shootin'.... "Fishin'.... still seem to be as popular as ever, and although one must sometimes feel shame at being a part of a bestial race that kills other races to survive, I think it all depends on HOW it is done.
I'm not a moralist, but when I see, of some of the " hunting adventures", my stomach (even as a Chef) turns. Inflicting, often pain and suffering is not, in my mind, the aim of these "pass-times" - in fact, I don't even think these occupations should be classed as "pass-times" - one is dealing with death, after all, and it seems fitting that most seasons in the N. Hemisphere start in the "death month" of November.
Historically, the "hunt" was the one and only source of nourishment for mankind, and it has done a full journey, over thousands of years, as a pass-time for the rich, through simple necessity, to "everybody can do it" whether they eat what they kill, or whether they know how to do it!
Hunting Associations and their supporters will see "red" at this statement, but even they must admit that although they do their best to "control" participants, there are large numbers who do it - not out of need, but to improve their social standing. I would suggest to them that they find other things - maybe "Facebook" - to be "social"?
Anyway, mine not to reason WHY, mine's just to do or die....!
  be it from need, be it from stupidity or hope for more

 "potency" or even for longer life....

...........or just for fashion, the results - in the kitchen are the same...for a period of the year, those dishes named "game"  are available.
There are certain rules which need to be applied, quite apart from the moral and legal aspects. For taste, tenderness, certain rules should be respected. After all - if a wild animal (or a domestically reared animal also, for that matter) MUST leave its life for us, then let's at least respect it.
Did you know, for example, that an animal, wild or other is more tender and has more taste if it is "ambushed" rather than after a - sometimes long - chase?
The reason is simple - during a "chase", Adrenaline is released to the body of the animal, and this makes the muscles harden. Since the muscle flesh is what we eat, you can imagine the result.
Where is the point of using "gros-caliber" rifles for small game that will either be so "exploded" that you can't use them for anything atall in the kitchen, or you will pass hours  trying to pick out lead pellets from the very little left over. Please don't ask me what a hunter SHOULD use, I'm not the expert, but I do know that lead is NOT edible...!
I have experienced, often, in Restaurant with great reputations, sudden pain in a tooth, and have been forced to "pick out" the lead - not from tooth fillings - but from shotguns.
Often I've had to throw out "products" given by well meaning neighbours because the weight of the wild duck was half of the weight  of the lead pellets in its carcase.
All examples of "ignorance" or "disinterest" - most of the people concerned wouldn't eat the results of their massacre anyway, but it got them one step higher on the ladder of success!
As you have probably realised, although I will cook, serve and eat Game, it is not one of personal favourites, mainly due to its relative "uncontrollability", and slaughter methods.
For many, many years, "Sanglier" (wild boar) was available in large quantities and not so expensive as other games, that then stopped, due to Tschernobyl atomic wastage in the forests where they lived. Sales were banned, but without doubt carried on - illegally, and nowadays, I'm just not too sure about their safety - hence the enormous increase in the N. Europe  wild boar population - I'm not the only one who has reserves!
The problem here is, of course, the enormous amount of damage done by the Boar, in forests, vineyards and elsewhere.
Of course - one could argue they were there before we were - it's their home - but try telling that to Foresters or Viniculturers.
I'll just try to limit myself to the bare facts in the kitchen.....!

Apart from the grilled/grillable pieces, in traditional European cuisine, wild or game is almost always prepared as what is called - incorrectly - "Civet". This has become the name given to long cooking dishes from game - stews basically.
It is actually a "misnommer" because a TRUE "Civet" should be made by thickening the sauce with the blood of the animal concerned, and only the blood. There are few people who do this, out of possibly distaste, but also from non-availability .
Nowadays the sauces are made as in all other "stews" -  from modern cubes and liquids and stocks. Without doubt not as nourishing but better for the "tasteful" civilisation.
Even the grilled pieces are, or should be, accompagnied by "blood sauces", but for the same reasons they are often served with all those sauces used for other grilled meats.
A relatively modern invention is the "garnished" for Game dishes.
These vary from the traditional "croutons" - croquette potatoes, puff pastry croutons, to exotics like sourish  Cherries, even peaches or pineapples or apricots.
Or style "Baden-Baden"   often with cherries "Schwarzwald" and pears.
True - the taste of game, which can be often "musty" can be "dressed up" a little with these "sweet & sour" concoctions, but a gourmet of Wild game would mock such things.
Why is the taste of game often "musty"...? Well - apart from the natural habitat and therefore diat of the animals, game is not something for the mild of heart!
There are many "legends" of how game should be stored, and very few of them have anything to do wit "freshness" or "refrigeration".
When mankind started eating animal flesh - there were no preservation methods, apart from eating them, or burning them on fires which made them both digestable and preservable for a limited period at least, and "purists" still hold to that!
A rabbit or a Hare is only ready for cooking when it has been "hung" (the offal having been removed and used for pâtés etc) and when the small part of the ear  allows itself to be "torn" by pulling with the fingers, or pheasants are ready for preparation when the small maggots can be seen on the carcase. These may well have their reasons, because game does need to be hung!
Poor things - having been shot, drawn they are now hung...but there are examples of man's behaviour towards his fellow man in History, where the same things were done - to other human beings...!
Maybe some of my reticence finds its reason in a Scotsman, "hung, drawn and quertered" was a regular occurrence! 
I'm not quite as squeamish as my wife was. As a small girl, she was asked by the Butcher which of the rabbits hanging there she would like.
She chose the white furry one, and disappeared screaming when he whipped it down, chopped its head off, ripped off the white fur....slit open the stomach and took out the vital organs.....!
It took her years to touch rabbit again - not surprising!
Barbaric barbarians.....!

iwmpop (mrlemarquis)            -          Vauvert, France            -        Novembre 2010

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