Christopher arrived home from school one of the days last month clutching a plastic bag. It was a “present from Mr S”, he declared, that “needs to go into the freezer”. I took the bag, which was fairly heavy, and peeked inside. There was a large, white, bloodstained package, some vacuum-packed frozen fish, and a gigantic coil of sausage. I tentatively took the white package out and turned it over. “MOOSE” was written on the other side. Okaaaay.
I dropped Rebecca into playschool and next morning and wandered down the corridor to the Grade 4 classroom. Mr S was shooing the last of the children out for recess. “Thanks very much for the gift”, I said brightly. “Great! Glad you like it!” he beamed. “Em, what exactly do I do with it though?” I ventured. “We’ve never eaten moose before”. Or seen one, heard one or shot one. We discussed possible menus for a while, and I discovered that the fish is pike. Which is still residing at the bottom of the freezer. “Hey, I was wondering whether the kids would like to come ice-fishing with me one weekend?” was the next new proposal. Isabel has wanted to go fishing forever. “They’d be thrilled!” I said, thinking of us all on the ice, neat holes cut, poles dangling. How Canadian. How cold. “Ok, we’ll organise that. Now, what about Michael coming hunting?” Hunting? with a gun? I mean, there’s a limit to how Canadian we can be, I think. “Has he hunted or used a gun before?” “Em, no. Never”, said I, picturing Michael in full camouflage gear, stalking Bambi through the woods. “Great!” came the hearty response. “We’ll get him out hunting for the day so”. I haven’t broken the news to Michael yet.
“So how did you, em, cut up the moose?” I asked. “Oh, we hauled it back to my garage and butchered it there”. I don’t think my role as understanding and tolerant wife could stretch that far. Thankfully, we don’t have a garage. So, we agreed on how to cook the moose, and plans for a weekend of ice-fishing/creeping stealthily through the woods, armed to the teeth. Awesome.
I decided to tackle the moose a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t sure what the children would think of it all, so I decided that the “coolness” of Mr S should be the main persuasive factor. “What are we having for dinner, Mom?” “Oh, we have a BIG treat tonight! Remember that lovely moose that Mr S gave to us?” Best not to mention the word “shot”, I thought. I threw it into a pot with copious amounts of red wine, onion, garlic, stock, and carrots, and left it simmer for hours. Every so often I’d lift the lid and sniff cautiously. Not bad. Hours later, I decided that it had to be tender enough to eat, and so we dug in. It was lovely. I expected it to be very strong and gamey, but it just tasted like a delicious variation on beef.
Given, the success of Moose Stew, I decided yesterday would be a good day to cook up the gigantic coil of sausage. I had forgotten to establish with Mr S what type of meat it was, so I was feeling a bit suspicious about it all. I browned it on both sides, and threw it into a pot with various other things to bubble away. It smelled….different. Just before the children trudged in, I cut off a bit of it to taste. It was hideous. I gagged and spat it out. Shit. I looked at the pot and pictured the kids’ reactions.
In they came, smelling the air. “What’s that for dinner?” “Oh, it’s that gorgeous sausage that Mr S gave us”, I smiled. They sat down, and I handed them a bowl each of sausage, rice and the gravy. Silence at the table. I snuck back into the kitchen and waited for the howls of outrage and disgust. “This is YUMMY!”, I heard. “Can I have more sausage?” “And me?” Seriously? What was wrong with their taste buds? I heaped up their plates again.
A discussion started about what type of sausage it was and which animal it came from. There were various suggestions, and they settled eventually on white deer. I have no idea why. Nicholas gave the matter some thought, and eventually couldn’t live with the possibility any longer. “I hope this isn’t the white deer’s PENIS!” he said anxiously. “Probably is”, said Benjamin, matter-of-factly. “No, it isn’t!”, I hastily interjected, waiting for Nicholas to spit the whole lot over the table. “Which bit is it then?” Oh God. “I don’t know, but why don’t you ask Mr S in the morning?” Crisis averted. I hope he had a palatable answer for them when they went to school, because I have another huge coil of unknown homemade sausage in the freezer that I need to smuggle into them. A neighbour gave it to us over Christmas. Michael thinks it’s beef, but the jury will be out until it’s cooked.
This is what we ate, and presumably what Michael will aiming at shortly:
Apparently, there are almost a million of them in Canada. Surely he’ll be able to hit at least one? All we need to do now is decide which wall we’ll hang the antlers on.