As the days continue to grow shorter, restaurant menus are featuring more and more seasonal "game." Back home in the States, though, this claim can deceive unwary consumers. US Federal law forbids the commercial sale of indigenous American wildlife that isn’t being raised for commercial slaughter, and requires pre-mortem inspections of animals before butchering. This means that the duck, venison, and "wild boar"sold in the States are almost never hunted; in fact, the latter name is often (rather misleadingly) used to refer to a breed of boar that is raised commercially, like pigs. Regulations in other countries are not nearly so strict, and usually allow for post-mortem inspections, a practice common in the UK.
Life in the wild can dramatically alter the taste of meat. Several industrious American entrepreneurs are finding ways to raise animals in a sort of ultra-free-range manner that allows the game to live and eat as it would naturally, before being rounded up for pre-slaughter inspection. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni describes this process in his recent blog entry on this subject:
[The operators of a company in Salem, New Jersey] breed the birds, put bands on them, then release them into the wild, so that they can “fly around the salt marshes,” move the way a wild bird would move and eat much of what a wild bird would eat. Then ... the operators “put out corn” to lure the birds. That corn ... leads to a large pen. They close the door of the pen. They check the ducks. If a duck has a band on its leg, they keep it. If it’s wild, they release it.
- "Ammo with flavor."
- "Forget worrying about shot breaking your teeth and start wondering about which flavor shot to use!"
- "Watch as your bird is seasoned on impact."
- "Shoots, kills, seasons."
FRANK: What is that, like a little chicken?
GEORGE: It's, uh, it's not a little chicken. [laughing] Little chicken. It's a gamebird.
FRANK: What do you mean? Like, you - you hunt it? How hard could it be to kill this thing?
We pan-fried ours and served it with a great autumnal stuffing-esque rice.
Nutty Apple Rice