Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dis-Comfort Food

I was watching Judge Judy this afternoon and she had on a pair of hillbilly sisters. One sister borrowed the others car and she hit and killed a deer. Then she didn’t want to pay for the damage to the car. Her defense to Judge Judy was "Ah offerd her half the meat". Her sister shot back, "Ah doan want no rigger mortiss meat". Judge Judy was perplexed, and said "I don’t understand. What did you do with the deer?". "Ah ate it" she replied.

Apparently Judge Judy has never heard of eating road kill. Living in New York City she probably never sees anything more than an occasional squashed rat or pigeon. In fact when I saw these two women squabbling about the value of venison over the price of repairing a car all I could picture was that family driving up and down the roads looking for their weeks supply of meat. ‘Mommy can we have pressed squirrel again’? I was disgusted at first, smug in the fact that my family would never do such a thing. Then a memory stirred in a dusty corner of my mind, Grandma!

When we were kids, on Sundays, my grandma would take the bus out from Chicago to 119th and Western Avenue. At that point my dad would drive in from Tinley Park, with a bunch of us kids in the back of the old Ford station wagon, to pick her up. I always looked forward to my grandma coming to visit because she would bring along a treat from the bakery with her. One time, after picking her up, my dad took one of his favorite routes back to Tinley Park through the forest preserves. I can still picture my grandmother sitting up front next to my dad with that white bakery box on her lap when something large hit the windshield directly in front of her. She started screaming and carrying on, I thought she was hurt or had the crap scared out of her. No, she wanted my dad to stop and go back and wouldn’t stop yelling at him until he did.
So my dad dutifully went back and retrieved the object he had hit. Now my grandmother is sitting there in the front seat with a white bakery box and a dead pheasant on her lap with a bunch of bewildered kids in the back seat. ‘Why does grandma want a dead bird?’, I wondered.

When we got home she started plucking it and cleaning it out on our back porch. I don’t remember my mom helping her, in fact I remember she was noticeably nowhere to be seen during this process. Also, I don’t remember tasting the pheasant after it was cooked. Knowing how picky I was as a kid, I probably opted for my standard fried chicken leg that day. Which reminds me, I saw a dead iguana over on Twenty Fifth Street when I was walking Molly today. Would Mark have a recipe for that?


  1. ewwww.

    there is a song about barbequed iguana though. put enough barbeque sauce on anything and it tastes good i guess.

  2. I recall many times that my dad and his brothers came back from deer hunting and gloated about their kill. Usually one of them didn't get their deer by shooting it. He hit it with his truck on the way back from their outings. It didn't matter how they got it as long as they got one.

  3. Alan! That is so funny...I just was telling Barbara (Landeen) about Grandma Putz's bakery treat and how I am not able to find it anywhere now, and then I read this!! I so remember the dead pheasant episode and it did happen exactly as you described! I don't remember eating it either... watching her pluck it was too yucky!

  4. It was some kind of poppy seed thing with white vanilla frosting.....ooooh so good.

  5. Out y'here in Ah-mish country. I had a friend tell me the he and his family were so poor that when they were drivin' down country roads they would purposely hit deer and other eatible creatures so they could legally harvest them.

    If you got in an accident with deer out here any time of the year, you have to notify the DNR and they let keep it if you want.

    So much for hunting season, just use your car and there is dinner on your table....the back country way.