Hunters not Gatherers

I have spent many years as a vegetarian, but now live with a serious carnivore, and I’ve changed my pattern accordingly.

When I was still in Western Australia, an American said to me over the Internet that they couldn’t think of anything worse than eating Kangaroos or emus. But I’ve eaten plenty of both. I don’t have butching skills (and I do have a weak stomach), so generally other people get to kill my meat for me.

However, Woollies – the nearest outlet was only 189kms away from me at the time – does a nice line in both marinaded and plain kangaroo fillet steak (tender, juicy and lovely), and they used to stock emu thigh steaks too. I *loved* emu – it reminded me so much of venison, and like venison you had to be careful how you cooked it. Kangaroo is much more forgiving – it is hard to ruin no matter what you do to it. I don’t eat red meat all that often; when I do, I’m much more likely to eat roo than cow.

Apropos of nothing, I was talking to an indigenous friend of mine, from the south-eastern Queensland people, last night, and we were talking about celebrity-chefs, and the talk turned, of course, to Mark Oliver (“The Black Olive”). We were both pleased that he’s relaxed a bit (hair out, because “his audience is not going to eat the food and that’s how he cooks at home”), but my friend was saying that a lot of modern people trying to recapture tribal diet have got it slightly wrong where meat-foods are concerned: if their ancestors, who had to work very, very hard for every catch of protein, were still alive today, they wouldn’t be targetting increasingly difficult-to-hunt foods as their descendants are today like lizard or possum or rock-wallaby or magpie-goose. The original tradition was to catch anything you could; she feels sure that the ancestors would be delighted with the ease with which they could snare rabbits, feral pigs, feral goats, camels…She feels that the easily available meats would become the staples which would help keep the ferals slightly controlled, whilst their descendants are slightly blinkered, hunting roo and wallaby and rock-pigeon which are hard to hunt even with guns and ignoring plentiful protein like goats grazing alongside them whilst they hunt.

There’s something to be said for knowing the tastes of the foods your ancestors ate, and eating them on social occasions. There’s also something to be said for hunting plentifully available animals whatever their origin, especially if they are despoiling the land.

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