I used to think hunters were cool.
They’re so manly and outdoorsy and adventurous. Then one day my dad shot some venison and made me eat a piece of deer tongue between two slices of Wonder bread. Ever since that day, I’ve been on a modified hunger strike—I only eat meat I don’t recognize. It’s one thing to call venison food. But it’s another thing to chew a deer tongue. It’s just plain disturbing to eat something that can taste you back.
Don’t misunderstand. I support the NRA—but I object to eating wild meat. That’s why I’m a strict poultrytarian. I’m convinced it’ll never be cool to hunt wild chickens—because nobody eats chicken tongue sandwiches.
But if someone did, it would be my husband.
I can’t explain how I managed to fall in love with a hunter. This guy has my dad beat. Rob grew up in the wild woods of Florida where dinner over a campfire required only a can of sardines and a raw onion. On a very good camping trip, a hapless armadillo might run across his path and go to meet his Maker at the hands of a ballpeen hammer. Ballpeen. You have to say it that way, too.
Yum yum. Armadillo sandwiches. They don’t even taste like chicken.
Rob has eaten more inedible things than that guy on Bizarre Foods. Talk about an oxymoron. Those two words just shouldn’t go together. On the other hand, if someone wanted me to sample some delicacy known as Bazaar food, I’d be salivating at the very thought. No animals are ever injured in the making of hot, buttery cinnamon rolls.
When I met my husband, he was mastering the unnecessary art of cooking rattlesnake pizzas. Not from a can. From a snake hole in the middle of the desert. I was practically a widow before I became a bride. Being a native Floridian, he can’t pass a booth selling Gator On A Stick without supporting the local economy. And once, when he was on-duty at a Florida fire station, he encountered a rattlesnake that was eating a squirrel. Dinner that evening was an epicurean fantasy—Breaded Squirrel-Stuffed Rattlesnake. Now you know why he’s never critical of my cooking—with standards that low, I can’t lose.
He has his limits, though, and draws the line at certain kinds of roadkill. He’ll only eat it “if it’s still warm—and not from the sun.” #quotesIwishI’dneverheard
You’re probably wondering why I fell in love with this wild Florida Cracker. Well, he’s romantic. On his first hunt with my dad, the only wild game they brought back from the woods were five unfortunate squirrels. But judging from the love note he scribbled for me while he was supposed to be scouting venison, I think Rob was just too head over heels to shoot straight.
That little treasure—which I still have, tucked away in my jewelry box—read, in part, “We didn’t see any deer, dear.” I’m telling you, it made me swoon. But that was nothing compared to the souvenir he dropped into my hand along with that note.
He gave me a dead squirrel foot. And then he told me he loved me. I confess, I’d sorta been hoping for a diamond ring. But since the squirrel didn’t need that hind leg anymore, I kissed my man and thanked him for the sentiment.
Listen, you’ve gotta count your blessings where you find ‘em. At least it wasn’t a squirrel tongue sandwich.
Photo courtesy of stevebkennedy's photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/15444618@N03/3066412905