|This month's cover image on the Chicago Reader (via Facebook)|
“I stood staring at the enemy’s trophy, the familiar impotent rage rising,” Sula writes about fining the carcass of one of his precious tomatoes. “The time had come to close the circle of life.”
In this month’s cover story of The Chicago Reader, Sula makes a case for consuming squirrel. More than just a vendetta, Sula’s lengthy exposé explores the history of squirrel eating. Apparently, until recently when moral objections about killing the cuddly critter and rumors of “mad squirrel disease,” squirrel was a common ingredient in American cooking. It was until the 75th anniversary edition of “Joy of Cooking” (2006) that a diagram of how to skin a squirrel was not included.
In his attempt to understand this odd ingredient, he traveled to Indiana to hunt the creatures in an environment where squirrel killing and cooking is still common. Although his hunting skills were sub par, his cooking skills were not and upon his return to Chicago he prepared a dinner party featuring “the most local of harvest meals.”
Thirty guests were invited to the dinner which featured a menu of “juleps made with the mint growing from my compost pile, coconut curry simmered with the mysterious squash that had taken over the backyard, dinosaur kale, cornbread, and the main event: a thick burgoo, featuring ‘heirloom tomato, tree nut, and alley-fattened wild caught game’.” The diners were pleasantly surprised at the meats flavor, which resembled a mix of pork and lamb. The more important point being, flavor profiles aside, that squirrel meat is an untapped protein in a city that houses half a million “food insecure” residents.
In the end, Sula comes to a terms with his squirrel hatred through a comprehensive and entertaining understanding of the rodent.
Read the full article here.