A young woman who hosts a PBS-type show in Australia emailed me awhile back requesting an interview about a column that ran in The Hartsville Vidette.
The subject: squirrel brains.
Ms. Bridget Northeast (you can check her out on Twitter) is planning a documentary about “unique customs around the world.” She Googled a column I wrote a few years ago about eating squirrel brains.
She wanted to pick my brain on the subject.
Bridget said, in a delightful Aussie accent, she “laughed throughout the column.”
She hoped to make the interview “equally amusing.”
I emailed her back and said sure.
I gave her my number and we scheduled an interview for the next evening.
She called right on schedule and, halfway around the world, introduced me to her Aussie audience as a “squirrel hunter in the States.”
Bridget wanted to know what squirrel brains tasted like. I said they tasted kinda like kangaroo.
She asked why people “over there” eat them. I said they ate them because they were hungry.
I went on to explain – in a more serious vein – that food was often scarce in the mountains where I grew up. A lot of folks didn’t hunt for sport, they hunted for subsistence.
Why squirrels specifically?
Because the mountains were covered in hardwood trees, which meant they were hopping with squirrels.
Squirrels were not only plentiful, but inexpensive to hunt. A .22 cartridge cost a penny when I was a kid. You could bring home a mess of squirrels for a few cents.
Squirrels were abundant, easy and economical to harvest, and tasted good. That’s why they were often on the menu.
Why eat the brains?
In those lean, hungry times, nothing was wasted. Every scrap of wild game was eaten.
And not just wild game, either. When a chicken was killed, everything was cooked but the cackle. Same with a hog. It was consumed from snout to tail and all in-between. Including the brains.
“You ate hog brains,” Bridget asked?
Yep, ate ‘em with relish. Hog brains and scrambled eggs was considered a delicacy.
And how did they taste?
I’d compare them favorably to wallaby.
“My, my,” said Bridget.
I went on to explain that few folks nowadays in our squeamish, urbanized society eat squirrel brains – or any other part of the rodent. That included my wife, a city girl. She refused to cook squirrels with their heads attached. She said she couldn’t cook something while it stared at her.
Bridget hopes to bring a camera crew to the States to film a squirrel hunt. She wants to include a segment on cooking and eating the noggins.
I told her I can arrange it. And once they’re cooked, she gets first bite.