An elegant dish is the most fitting conclusion to a day afield, and when hunters gather to eat, the communal table is often studded with a variety of natural delicacies. Such priceless treats command high prices in high-end restaurants – the retro food of the pioneers has gone haute cuisine, it seems – but the hunter knows their true worth. No wonder the plates are always piled high at a wild-game dinner.
Wild game is the food of European aristocracy on the finest occasions, but any North American can eat as well as the royal patrons of the snootiest Scottish hunting preserve – if he or she has the gumption to go out and hunt.
Assertive game meat is a welcome change from ho-hum, boneless, skinless, tasteless supermarket fare, especially when harvested and cooked by one’s own hand. At a wild-game dinner, the assembled dishes – whether old favourites, new creations or secret recipes – celebrate the season of pursuit. And they affirm the hunting instinct, which has ensured the survival of the human race for eons, at least until the recent blip of modern times.
While vegetarians with their gaunt, pasty frowns try to criminalize the art of eating well, hunters and anglers just tuck in and laugh, because good food puts a smile on the face. Wild game is best shared with those who are passionate about the outdoors and care about the details of the hunt that provided the dish. The tales from the trails can easily meander into nose-stretching territory, but whether they’re about grilled wild turkey breasts or breaded lake trout fillets as in the top picture, the yarn always ends on the plate, revealing the true taste of nature, waiting for you to eat it up. And ask for seconds.