General Question

JackAdams's avatar

In fictional accounts of so-called "Hillbillies" (mostly TV and movie stereotypes), they're depicted as eating/enjoying possums, raccoons and squirrels. Are there REALLY folks in the backwoods country of the USA, who eat those critters?

Asked by JackAdams (6484points) September 15th, 2008

Have you ever heard of a recipe containing any of those animals? Have you ever eaten one of them?

Certainly, all of the legends about moonshine are true, but I think I’d pass, if offered a stew containing any of those cute little creatures…

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

63 Answers

willbrawn's avatar

yes there are those kind of people. In the south they are called bumpkins.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Jack, my Fluther Friend, it is true. Many people in the south eat opossums, squirrels and quite possibly raccoons, although I don’t know anyone first hand who has eaten a raccoon. I have eaten the other two. My granpa was good at shootin’ ‘em and cleaning ‘em and granny (we called her granma, really, but I couldn’t resist the hillbillies reference) was a master at cooking them. I was a mere child but I remember being fond of squirrel and not so much opossum.

Nimis's avatar

My friend was on a strict diet prescribed by her doctor (trying to pinpoint her allergies).
On the list was squirrel. I would guess it’s pretty common if they felt the need to put it on that list.
Also, this was not in some backwater country. This was in San Francisco.

JackAdams's avatar

San Francisco??????????

Nimis's avatar

Yup. Crazy, eh?

cooksalot's avatar

Yep, once in a great while I will find and old cookbook that will have recipes that call for squirrel, possum, rabbit, and even a raccoon once.

Lee_27's avatar

not to talk down about my state but in Oklahoma I would say there are more people that have tried atleast squirrel than have not and I have heard of alot of people that have tried raccoon too.

mamasu's avatar

Having lived in the south and in the mountains of Montana, I can tell you that squirrel isn’t very good but rattlesnake isn’t bad. I’ve never eaten opossum, but know people who have. I don’t think I could stomach eating raccoon. They scare the bejeesus out of me. Bear isn’t bad. Elk and buffalo are much better.

The problem with the little creatures is they are kind of gamey tasting.

JackAdams's avatar

Well, they do eat Razorback hogs in Arkansas

Poser's avatar

Possum and squirrel aren’t that much different than rabbit, which I tried in Spain.

edit: Not that much different in theory, never tasted the others, so I’m just assuming.

tWrex's avatar

I can’t answer the question, but I sure wanna try them. I like odd food and I think it’d be at least a conversation piece. I’ve eaten alligator (which really does taste like tough chicken), I’ve had dolphin (not really that good) and I’ve had eel (which was sweet and delectable) so I’ll try pretty much anything. Anyone know a meat market that would actually sell this? Or should I just sit outside on garbage day with a rifle (although I may look out of place in the middle of suburbia like that)?

Seesul's avatar

WARINING: AC DON’T READ THIS.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite shows was You Asked For It, so here goes:

Opossum Roast

Opossum is very fat with a peculiarly flavored meat. To dress, immerse in very hot water (not boiling) for 1 minute. Remove and use a dull knife to scrape off hair so that skin is not cut. Slit from bottom of throat to hind legs and remove entrails. Remove head and tail if desired. Wash thoroughly inside and out with hot water. Cover with cold water to which has been added 1 cup of salt. Allow to stand overnight; (for those of you who were planning on this for dinner tonight, you’re outta luck, sorry) in the morning drain off the salt water and rinse with clear, boiling water.

(Now for the good part) Make stuffing as follows: Brown 1 large, fine chopped onion with 1 tablespoon of butter. Add chopped opossum liver and cook under tender. Add 1 cup bread crumbs, a little chopped red pepper, a hard-cooked egg, finely chopped, dash Worcestershire sauce, slat and water to moisten. Stuff opossum with mixture, fastening the opening with skewers or sewing. With 2 tablespoons water, roast in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) until meat is tender and richly browned. Baste constantly with the opossum’s own fat. Remove skewers or stitches, serve on heated platter. Skim fat from gravy and serve with baked yams or sweet potatoes.

I also have a recipe for a yummy dish called Brunswick Stew. For that you need 2 squirrels, lima beans, salt pork and a 1/2 lb.. of butter. mmmmm!

Also available (upon request) are directions for Larded Grouse, Broiled Squab and 3 varieties of Pigeon, including Potted Pigeons (for those of you with tile roofs and a problem).

I’d post more, but I have to iron my aprons and read the section about how to entertain without a maid.

Next week: Nutria The fun and nutritious fast food!

allengreen's avatar

Yes Jack, they are called Republicans. I hear that they even eat their own young. After they are born….

Seesul's avatar

Edit: salt not slat (plum outta slat)

poofandmook's avatar

I was sort of hungry. Thanks, Seesul! Natural diet!!

Seesul's avatar

…so poof, are you saying I should throw away that place card that I just hand made for you?

poofandmook's avatar

@Seesul: Well, no.. will you be serving salad? I can do salad. LOL

Seesul's avatar

Nope, but I do have a kettle full o’ collard greens: on the stove

scamp's avatar

Seesul, do you think it’s time to dig up the hog yet?? I got the sweet tea! And let’s not forget the fat back with those collards!!

Seesul's avatar

Believe or not, the recipe is true. I got it from my mom’s cookbook, that she got as a bride in 1941. I found it in her trash can because she said she didn’t need it anymore. I just happened to be over there when she threw it out and rescued it. It’s actually a great cookbook and has directions for just about anything, so I have used it quite a bit, but not for wildlife. It is not a southern cookbook, either. It was a standard American cookbook at the time…and it really does have a section on how to entertain without a maid.

JackAdams's avatar

My Gawd! What have I started?????

scamp's avatar

Oh, and Jack, it’s not just hillbillies that eat that kind of food. Flatlanders like it too!!

cyndyh's avatar

Squirrel is not bad. If you’ve ever tasted the difference between farm/home raised rabbit and wild rabbit, squirrel is more like wild rabbit. I’ve not had the other two as far as I know, but the side of the extended family that’s Cajun inspired me to be a vegetarian for more than a decade.

I actually found myself in a discussion once with my cousin’s husband about what constitutes “road kill”. Nothing makes you want to stick to eating just salads at family reunions more than that.

AstroChuck's avatar

Aahhhh! My eyes! My eyes!

poofandmook's avatar

actually my aunt moved out to Indiana several years ago and they own a farm, and we always joke that if you ever visit their house, you never look in their freezer because you never know what’ll be looking back at you. Her daughter’s favorite food when she was 5.. FIVE… was squirrel hearts.

Seesul's avatar

AC!!!!!!!!! I TOLD YOU NOT TO READ MY POST. GO SIT IN THE CORNER.

poofandmook's avatar

lmfao @ Seesul and Chuck.

Seesul's avatar

ac, at least I had enough respect not to post any recipes for duck, and unfortunately, I do have them in that book.

AstroChuck's avatar

@poofandmook- Sorry. Didn’t know you had such a fa.

Seesul's avatar

she won’t anymore ac, I’ll just keep posting recipes and keep her on her diet, and if you don’t listen to me, you’ll be losing a few lb’s as well.

sacaver's avatar

Oh hell yes they exist. Here’s a story for you. Not so much squirrels and possums, but something much, much worse…

We were on a caving trip a number of years back. We were going to arrive at the landowner’s property well after midnight, so rather than wake them up, we just pulled off on the side of the road and called it a night. Next morning, it looked like rain, so we finished the drive to the cave. During our drive, we noticed a lot of rabbits were lined up alongside the road. As we drove, they would suddenly dart out across the road, and subsequently came to a sudden death. It was bizarre.

We get the owner’s house and we’re invited inside for coffee. One of the guys with our group mentioned what we encountered with the rabbits on suicide mode along the road. We’re talking with the rancher and my friend leans over and asks if I’d noticed that the guy’s wife had disappeared. I hadn’t, but about a half-hour later, she’s come back in to the kitchen with two gallon sized Ziploc bags filled with something. We got the key to the cave gate and as we’re leaving their house, the owner’s wife tells us that they’ll be having rabbit for dinner that night.

None of us took her up on the offer.

JackAdams's avatar

OK, time for a serious sub-question, please:

Is this stuff REAL, and has anyone eaten it?

Thanks!

scamp's avatar

That link is restricted on my computer.. what is it??

syz's avatar

My grandmother used to tell me stories about trapping opossums and keeping them in a cage for a few weeks to “clean them up” before butchering – meaning that they fed them non carrion.

srmorgan's avatar

I can’t believe I remembered this story from the New York Times..

Sorry it’s behind a copyright when I try cut and paste..

SRM

scamp's avatar

@srmorgan the link leads to your sign in page. Can you fix it please?

Seesul's avatar

Yes, and no, never tried nutria either. My mom said that the very poor ate both. It is pokeweed, but as it matures is poisonous. Even when young, you have to wash it at least 3X to wash the toxins out.

JackAdams's avatar

So, POLK SALAD is a no-no?

tWrex's avatar

I have something very inappropriate for the polk salad, but I think I’d get in trouble.

Seesul's avatar

yes, it is sometimes used as a remedy and ends up a permanent solution

Wine3213's avatar

If you ever watch “Bizarre Foods” with Andrew Zimmern, you might have seen the episode where he went to Louisiana, and met up with a guy who hunted, cooked, and ate some kind of “swamp rat”. The guy said it was closely related to a beaver, and it went well with rice. :)

MarcIsMyHero's avatar

The newest update of the classic cookbook “Joy of Cooking” edits out some of the more interesting inclusions from past editions….but if you see an old copy in someone’s kitchen or a second hand store, you should check it out. There are all sorts of great recipes for critters.

@twrex, the best way to catch a critter would probably be to catch it yourself. If you live in a city like me (trapping isnt an option), local farmers markets often have all kinds of game available. In NYC rabbit, goose, ostrich, buffalo, and deer are all easily found at the farmers market in addition to all the usual meats and poultry. Pigeon isn’t too popular here for obvious reasons but many other small game birds can be found.

P.S. @ Twrex, about the dolphin you ate, it was most probably a fish called Mahi Mahi but also known as “dolphin.” It has no relation to real dolphin, porpoise, or any other cetaceans for that matter. Unless you were in Japan, where you can still find whale burgers and whale sashimi (even though it is internationally banned), or there was a really bad mishap at the tuna packing and canning facility… you ate fish.

cyndyh's avatar

@MarcIsMyHero: Not only are there recipes for odd critters, but there’re also instructions for skinning and quartering all sorts of things in the older versions.

JackAdams's avatar

If anyone is interested, here’s some more information regarding POLK SALAD

I’d avoid it, if I were you.

My public thanks to seesul, for bringing this to our attention.

tedibear's avatar

For the record, I have eaten venison, rabbit and squirrel. Squirrel, to me, tasted like dark meat turkey. The little bones made it a real pain to eat and it wasn’t worth the effort. I’ve heard it’s good with BBQ sauce but haven’t had it personally. Rabbit has always tasted like chicken to me, but that may be because I’ve always stewed it and served it with dumplings or biscuits. Venison is good if it’s aged properly.

My mom used to have a cookbook that had a recipe for possum and the directions said to “dress as for rabbit.” Now, I know what that really means, but in my head I always pictured a possum in a bunny suit!

JackAdams's avatar

Have ya’ll ever done hear tell of Brunswick Stew?

I quote: “Recipes for Brunswick stew vary greatly but it is usually a tomato-based stew containing various types of lima beans/butter beans, corn, okra, and other vegetables, and one or more types of meat. Most recipes claiming authenticity call for squirrel or rabbit meat, but chicken, pork, and beef are also common ingredients. Some versions have a distinctly smoky taste.”

I had never had it any other way, than with chicken as the only meat in it, because that’s the way my mother’s family always prepared it for family reunions in her native Tar Heel state.

But one time, I was talking to a friend and I mentioned it in passing, and she said, “Ya’ll ever had yours with a dead squirrel in it?”

I replied, “No, but we tried tossing in one that was alive, and the little thing kept jumping out of the pot and running off, all the time…”

tedibear's avatar

@JackAdams – something like live lobsters trying to crawl out of the pot?

JackAdams's avatar

Actually, live Crabs would probably be more descriptive.

Some folks used to refer to the Republican Party in Texas as, “Crabs in a bucket,” because each of them would try to climb over the other, to make it to, “the top.”

Have you ever had crabs?

I have. I think I may have gotten them from a less-than-sterile toliet seat in a public restroom…

Seesul's avatar

@ Jack: If you look up in my recipe post, you will find that I mentioned Brunswick Stew. It was one that particularly caught my eye because it includes one of the foods I loathe, lima beans. The cookbook actually had a short history on it. It supposedly originated in Virginia.

@Marcis: Believe it or not, but that is the book next to the cookbook I got the opossum recipe out of. I didn’t even think of looking in it.

@Wine: I’m pretty sure they were talking about nutria (link above). I first ran into those when taking a tour of the basement of the capitol building in Baton Rouge, LA. They had an exhibit of exactly what we are talking about here and it included the nutria. That’s where my mom and I got into the discussion about them. They had the skin of one stretched out like Rocky the Flying Squirrel. I’ve only watched the show you mentioned once, and they were in China eating live snake. It had to be alive to taste right. That’s when I turned it off.

@tedi: I live on the edge of the country, and when I first moved here, there was a sign on the road about dressed rabbits. I called my sister, who had a bunny at the time and asked her if she wanted to bring him by and get an outfit for him ;}.

JackAdams's avatar

@Seesul: You are right. You did indeed mention it first.

But, I double-checked the guidelines, and it doesn’t say anything similar to, “If someone mentions something first, no one else can,” so I guess it’s OK for me to do so, isn’t it?

poofandmook's avatar

maybe I’m imagining things.. but it seems to me, Jack, that Seesul was just answering your question… not saying that you shouldn’t have mentioned it

Nimis's avatar

Tedi: Speaking of live lobsters…I used to have a pet lobster (that was supposed to be my dinner).

tedibear's avatar

@nimis – Did you intend to have the lobster as a meal and then change your mind? How long did you have it? I’ve heard they can get pretty old.

Nimis's avatar

Tedi: My dad intended it as my meal. I opted to not eat dinner for that night. I did have him (if he was indeed a he) for a long time. (Even inspiring my neighbors to get pet crabs! I imagine their parents were less enthused about them not eating dinner.) But, alas, he never got to see old age. He met a sad and undignified ending when he crawled under the Sunday comics and my brother accidentally stepped on him. (The comics transferred to his still wet shell and my brother just pointed and laughed.)

tedibear's avatar

@nimis – OW! What a way to go. Poor guy.

Nimis's avatar

Moment of silence for Lobby, the Lobster.

MarcIsMyHero's avatar

Hmm. Now that I think about it… The US Army Field Guide (or at least the reproduction found at Barnes and Nobles) teaches how to quickly and easily catch, kill, skin, and cook all kinds of critters. I specifically remember a detailed illustration teaching a quick way to kill and remove the entrails of a rabbit by taking it by the head and spinning like a poi until centrifugal force pulls everything out. I asked a former Roomie who grew up in Texas about the method and he confirmed it.

JackAdams's avatar

[gags and vomits]

Poser's avatar

Rumors fly rampant about the Navy’s SERE school. One of them is that we’ll be required to kill, skin and eat our own rabbits. Yum!

JackAdams's avatar

See my previous post.

MarcIsMyHero's avatar

@ jack, Rabbits are actually really good eats. i’ve eaten rabbit in some great italian and american restaurants. a little gamey, but very tender, especially when braised or stewed. great in pasta or rice dishes too.

Incidentally, I was just watching an episode of Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days, in which a jerk from my home state of NY is forced to go live off the grid at a self sustaining west coast community. He has trouble keeping up with their vegan lifestyles and ends up shooting, skinning, and cooking some rabbits. amazingly his hosts were more upset with his girlfriends use of perfumes and hair products than his rabbit hunting.

cyndyh's avatar

Some could argue that he’s using all the rabbit and hunted it wild. It’s not like it was raised like veal or battery hens or some other cruel way. It’s not wasted. The perfumes and hair products can affect anyone in the room.

I’m not saying that’s my view, but just that I see how the argument could make sense to some folks.

scamp's avatar

Rabbit is pretty tasty. My cousins raised them, and we had it at their house when I was a kid.

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