Last weekend was our annual street party, la fête des voisins, and following up from a piece I wrote back in October…we ate the neighbourhood boar! (I’m sure there’s a joke to be made here as we certainly have a few neighbourhood bores, but I won’t go any further with that and it wasn’t them we ate!)
For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while you may remember the story of the local hunt taking place in our lane. For new readers and anyone wanting to refresh their memories the whole story can be found here. In a nutshell, several wild boar were culled locally and we were given a leg and some (what we thought was) belly meat by the hunters. Not being too keen on game (me not JF), nor having any butchering skills (both of us) we threw the beast into the freezer and semi-forgot about it. As the months passed we occasionally wondered what on earth we were going to do with the wild boar taking up a fair amount of space in the freezer, particularly the hairy leg with hoof still attached. But other than jokingly saying “we’ll cook it up for the neighbourhood party” we mainly tried not to think about it.
So, fast forward seven months and while chatting to some neighbour friends about what we were going to bring to this year’s street party we remembered the boar and we decide to go for it. Well, when I say “we” I really mean our lovely neighbour J who offered to deal with our meat as well as theirs. He’s a great cook, but not a butcher, and by all accounts turning a hairy limb of animal into edible meat wasn’t much fun! Perhaps I should point out at this stage that this post isn’t a good one for vegetarians (or anyone of a sensitive nature).
Apparently there was an enormous amount of blood and actually not much meat, for what we thought was belly included some hidden bones and a lot of fat. We were all shocked at how few edible bits there were. But what there was produced a very tasty stew several hours later. J added loads of red wine, some herbs, onions and carrots and cooked it up for 5 hours on a low heat. Despite being a very wintry dish it went down well amongst the neighbours as we sat around a fire on an unseasonably chilly night and I was delighted not only to have solved the conundrum of what to do with the boar but to have eaten such locally sourced and free meat. “Neighbour meat”!
I’ve eaten wild boar on two other memorable occasions. The first time was our wedding meal (I still marvel that I agreed to such a menu but it was winter and the chef insisted on seasonal food and I was a young bride eager to please and actually it was great!) And secondly, on the 31 December 1999 as we celebrated the Millenium at a house party with friends near St Tropez. This time I had no say in the menu as we were guests but once again I enjoyed it. The smell of it hanging for a couple of days before, however, was another matter altogether. The idea of eating wild boar is always more alarming than the actual taste, which as I keep saying is really rather good, even for me, a professed non-game eater. So, to get back to this weekend and our fête des voisins, we ended the night making smores with marshmallows, which complemented the boar just fine!
Have you eaten wild boar? Would you try it? What do you think about eating the local wildlife?