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Three score and ten or more

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I really have to explain this post a little. Patrick, in his Born Again Redneck block complained that a raccoon had killed one of his favorite ducks, and went on a mini-rampage against raccoons, pointing out that they are not only scavengers, but killers of other small animals and that they spread a disease to which people may fall victim. The disease is spread through raccoon poop and Patrick decided that it would be more practical to trap and kill raccoons than to police his yard for raccoon poop. It was at that point that I posted the comment on his blog that follows. It is repeated here with his permission.

Well, first and foremost I intend to avoid eating raccoon poop whenever possible. (it has never been on my recommended list). I did make a try at eating a raccoon once. It was at a time when I was a starving graduate assistant with four kids and almost no income. A neighbor (we lived in an old military complex that had been converted into graduate, married, student housing) came to me one day an asked if I had ever eaten coon. I replied that I had not, "Why?"

It seemed that he had come across a source of raccoon meat that was cheap and reliable. (Our primary source of protein at the time was chicken backs and necks for seventeen cents a pound at a local store.) He also stated that it made good barbeque. The "source" offered 12 to 17 pound coons for a flat price of five dollars. Twelve pound of meat for five dollars seemed okay to me so I put in my five and waited on delivery the next Saturday.

The bloom came off the rose in several steps. First, when it arrived, it had been cleaned except for the right paw which still had fur and little fingernails. I asked the delivery person why, and he stated that they always left the right paw intact so that customers would know for sure that they weren't getting a dog or cat. (It seemed that some unscrupulous folk were deceiving the locals by reselling skinned out critters that had been "rescued" from the local pound.)

The second bloom remover started with the seller's advice that the carcass should be soaked overnight in cold water containing about half a pound of salt. Without soaking, the meat was, he said, a little gamey.

I accepted the meat, removed the aforementioned paw and placed the carcass in the sink with water, ice and the prescribed amount of salt.

The third bloom remover came the next morning when the whole family trouped into the kitchen to find out what stank to high heaven. The five dollar meat not only smelled foul, but had turned, (fat and all, I didn't mention that the thing was covered in a one or more inch layer of fat) a revolting Halloween Grey. The fat was not only grey but now had a really interesting texture that I can't really describe.

The three of our children who were old enough to talk expressed strong reservations about eating that thing, regardless of how it was cooked, and even showed some doubt about eating anything that would ever come out of that sink again (the sink had also taken on a thick greasy coating with the grey pallor of the fat and the meat.)

WE agreed on its non edibility, but were then faced with the question of what to do with the critter. After a number of false steps we gave the thing to another graduate student in the complex who was getting paid the same stipend I was, but who had SIX children, and might naturally be less fussy. He told me that he barbequed Greyling (it had acquired a name in our house) and that it was enjoyed by all. I think he was putting me on.


At 1:31 PM, Blogger Kathleen said...

Oh my. I have a small churning in my belly having read your rather vivid (very well written) post. I had a similar feeling when reading Poe's description of the pale blue eye with a film over it.

Wise decision to pass on the coon.

P.S. I have a sudden desire to scour and bleach my kitchen sink.

At 10:07 PM, Blogger Thotman said...

Richard...you are something else... who would have ever thunk it...racoon. and you really SAW jesse owens...that tape of him winning in front of Hitler is a classic...what I would have given to have seen that guy in person...wow. Thank you for your always wonderful take on what we share..

At 10:35 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

We took some friends out to dinner last Saturday as we always do on their birthdays. It was her 81st birthday. He's 80 and, when I told him about the coons, he said "Yum" or something to that effect and proceeded to describe how you barbecue it on a high flame to burn the fat off. But, after reading your ordeal, I remained unconvinced. I'm glad that we talked about it after I'd eaten my oysters and prime rib.


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