the golden sausage of progress

22 April 2008

beast feaster - an animal eating adventure

well guys and girls, it is completed. done, dusted, eaten. i feel accomplished and saddened that it's over, as well as relief! now all that's left to say is this is not the end. the animal eating adventure shall live on! but more about that later. firstly i would like to give a little run down of the year - the highs, the lows, the animals and the puns.

my top highlights of the year were being mentioned in the guardian food blog, eating animals on bbc3 and the greatest achievement in my life so far - inventing a sandwich (and the sneaky addition to wikipedia). designing the tshirts and that has been fun too, selling them even more fun! which brings me quickly around to the fact that the all new beast feaster threadibles is up and running, and i am in the slow process of adding new designs etc.. you can also buy a scorpion lollipop, crispy worm snacks, chocolate covered insects and crocodile jerky amongst loads more things now, bringing the edibles to the threadibles.

now the bit you've all been waiting for - welcome to the first (and i assume last) annual beast feaster award ceremony! spurred on by the endless questions people have asked me, i have conjured up a definitive list of the best and worst of beast feaster, the tastiest, the weirdest and the smelliest amongst other joys.

the weirdest animal award
the weirdest animal i have eaten this year has to be squirrel. although it is quite available these days and will be more so in the future, it certainly was a weird one - if not being a squirrel itself but the way it unfolding rather oddly upon cooking. damn you cooking twine (incidentally, i know what i want for christmas.)

the ugliest animal award
i can't give it to mussels as they don't even have eyes and deserve pity instead. i pity you, mussels. and worms. so, the ugliest animal? hmm is it unfair to say wild boar? i imagine they have a bit of a stigma since the lion king.. that's just the hand you're dealt i suppose! wild boar wins.

the greatest pun accolade
yes, there are puns in this website somewhere. terrible, terrible puns. unfortunately, these are the butter to my bread, the tea to my mug and the ale to my tankard. they are everywhere! i don't know if i can actually pick the greatest one though. most of them can be found in the incredibly horrendous post about wildebeest, or gnu, and i think this is where you can find the best. which one do you think it is?

the most disturbing texture prize
worms. just look at the pictures. crispy at first was fine but when they took on the soup and became squelchy and gooey it was not the gastronomical delight i had been expecting.

the 'ooh, what a surprise' award
this one is a tie between two sea creatures. as is well documented on beast feaster, i have (or should i say had) an aversion to sea food, i just didn't like it. well that has mostly changed now and am happy to say that the two animals that surprised me the most by being very lovely indeed were octopus and swordfish!

the most expensive meat
coming in at about £20 for 350g of the blighter is the ever expensive, yet equally expensive python. and i had it with mash - sophistication on a plate!

the least expensive meat
disregarding presents (ants, partridge, pheasant) things that were bought for me (pigeon) and avoiding the political minefield that is companies giving me things for free because that never happened (*cough*), the cheapest animal on the list, going by weight ratio here, was rabbit as it worked out at £1.75 for 350g! score.

the sexiest animal eaten
although i must admit i have the hots for a good emu, the sexiest animal to pass by my esophagus this year is turkey. look at that dribbly bit coming off it's nose - hot! and don't get me started on the thighs and breasts. phwoar.

the smelliest animal trophy
without a doubt, the trophy was already engraved at the time because somewhere in my deepest olfactory region i knew that it would be the smelliest animal overall. it even beat pheasant which went a bit funky after hanging. the winner is... horse. of course.

the tastiest animal medal
i think everyone who has been reading this quest from start to finish will know which animal i am going to choose here. the one that heralded a new age of sandwich creation and landed me with my own sandwich invention. yes, the tastiest animal of the 52 was completely and unequivocally zebra.

and so that rounds up the year (and a bit, i admit this last post has got together slowly!) keep your eyes fixed however for my next project, details announced soon *excitement*, and also the continuation of beast feaster (also details coming soon).. if you have any more awards that you think i should give out or anything like that, leave a comment!

oh, and the greatest pun has to be "top gnu" hahaha. seriously.

9 April 2008

how to cook python: fangers and mash

well, talk about close finishes! my final, 52nd animal for this momentous quest is possibly the weirdest of them all, at least i think so. python. the kind folk at osgrow sorted me with this beast so a round of applause goes to them! i ate the whole dish at 17:38 giving me a full 18 minutes of the 52nd week to relax. oh no wait, i can't relax yet as i have to actually finish this post! so here goes..

the python came skinned and in fillets, which smelled vaguely like popcorn. weird texture to the touch they looked quite bony. the packaging also lets us know that this python comes from vietnam.i heated up some oil (a lot of oil, whoops) in a big frying pan and lay a couple of slices of python to swim around. aptly, this caused a huge amount of spitting and i had to drain off a lot of the oil to combat this. as they were cooking a faint, pleasant aroma of popcorn filled the kitchen. i had swiftly made some mashed potatoes before cooking the python using, er, potatoes, oregano, basil, parsley, butter and milk. mmm creamy.
i dished the whole thing up, sans sauce, and thought i'd try my hand at presenting it in a really stylish manner. i think i succeeded. see the cunning placement of celery leaves on the python. classy. after tossing that away i tucked in (clock saying 17:38 woohoo!)
the python itself was very chewy, but totally boneless. it still gave off a popcorn-like aroma but a rather more moody taste, a bit like evil bacon. but the taste itself wasn't evil, it was rather good! the whole dish would have benefit from some sauce or gravy but as you might realise i was quite pushed for time on this one.

well my friends, my followers of food. this is it. number 52. i can't actually quite believe i have accomplished such an insane task. there has been ups and downs, strikes and miss strikes, tears and joy. okay there were never any tears but there has been a few gagging moments that may have sprouted a couple (not me of course, *ahem*). all i can say now is i must publish this and you can expect a big post either later this evening or tomorrow, thursday 11th (or perhaps the next day or the next etc..), with a nice big summary! and also what my next quest is and other goodies so stick around, take a pew and tuck in.

signing out - the beast feaster.

8 April 2008

the animals went in two pie two: elk and bison

a nice double hit today, boosting me back into the realms of possibility for the completion of my year long quest. incidentally i was looking at my calendar yesterday and it occurred to me that if i started on a wednesday how could i possibly be finishing on a thursday if i were to be bound by the 52 week rule and suddenly it hit me. by thursday 11th april the 52 weeks would be over by a good half a day and the quest would be merely eating 52 animals in a year (which this year works out as 366 days or 52 weeks and two days!). my actual deadline is 52 weeks to the exact time i ate the first animal. luckily for us i used to use my camera phone to take the animal photos which had a time stamp. if you check back to the first strike you will see that i had the dish ready at 17:55. i can only assume i had eaten the first two mouthfuls by around 17:56. therefore, the new deadline is 17:56 wednesday 10th april 2008. which is in less than 24 hours, gadzooks!

back to the animals of the moment. after a lot of searching i came across a bison farm in wiltshire, namely bush farm, also known as the bison centre and farm. i gave the owner , colin, a call and we had a chat about the bison and also another animal which he and his wife keep - elk. after a pleasant natter i decided that i was going to order, from the large variety of ways you can purchase bison and elk, a pie of each - bison pie cooked in stout and elk pie in red wine and juniper - at a snip for £3 each! knowing of my quest they rapidly sent them out and i received them this morning at the ungodly hour of 7am. i duly whacked them in the fridge and hustled myself off to work for the day.deciding what to eat with the pies like a greedy beast feaster, i plumped for an adaption to my magical recipe for chili wedges and used the rest of the breadcrumbs from the squirrel stuffing to make spicy breadcrumb wedges. the breadcrumbs wouldn't stick very well to the olive oil however, and kind of fell off hurriedly. never mind. i slid the wedges and pies into the oven and gave them some time to cook. when i got them out eventually, they were steaming with goodness and i cracked them open to vent off the burning steam. yes, i have been pie injured before. i also added a sad excuse for a salad too, backed up later with some coleslaw.
tucking into the mighty pies i went for the bison first. the meat was very tender and fell apart on my tongue which was pleasing. with a sweeter taste than beef it carried itself with a gathering richness. next i slipped in a forkful of elk. the meat was chewier than the bison but in no way was it actually chewy, just more so than the bison! you know what, i think that was my worst sentence in the entire beast feaster saga (feel free to disagree there). the texture was not unlike duck and overall was a delight.

well, i am actually in the fifties now! with one animal to eat. in less than 24 hours. ah. stay tuned folks and let's see if i can conjure up something magical and complete the quest.

*runs off and seeks out animals*

6 April 2008

grey squirrel? i must be nuts.

oh i love terrible, terrible puns.

but anyway, a helpful reader of beast feaster has pointed out that the british ox i ate the other day was nothing more than a british cow. a learned british cow, but still a british cow all the same. and since this has already been thrown down as a strike in the early days, ox as a strike has been revoked! quite a blow for the final days of the feast. so what better way than to make up for it by eating something particularly interesting - grey squirrel. i managed to come across a butcher's shop that sold this meat by chance as i browsed around small local stories to the northumberland area on a large news site. the butcher's shop in question is ridley's fish and game in corbridge and i had the pleasure to talk at length with the owner, david ridley, about the future of squirrel meat in britain. it looks bright. now look at it's comedy appearance:whilst thinking about a recipe, i knew it should contain nuts in some form. it had to. so i plumped for chestnuts. i made some breadcrumbs and mixed some herbs in with them, oregano and basil for a lovely herby fragrance, and then let them soak in some cream with a dash of vinegar from a sweet pickled onion jar. the soaking didn't really work so i just mixed it all up into a weird, but delicious, paste. i cast the chestnuts in and permeated them throughout the mixture. cunningly, before i did this i had squeezed a lemon and infused it with some salt and pepper before rubbing it on the squirrel carcass. i wanted to stuff the squirrel with the chestnut breadcrumb, er, thing but it turned out i had made rather too much of it. rather than i let it go to waste i just mashed it all in there. lacking string to truss it all together i just rubbed it with melted butter and let it get on with it in a low-heat oven alongside some roasting potatoes for a couple of hours.
after an unknown amount of time, i opened the oven to reveal a monster inside! ahh! but no, it was the squirrel that had taken on an alien form. the chestnut breadcrumb thing had expanded and bloated the critter, whilst forcing it's legs apart in a painful manner. i must buy string for future animal experimentation. the squirrel had taken on the look of a roast piglet and smelt wonderful, the chestnuts giving off a tasty smell with the breadcrumb mix.
rather unbeautifully i lay a bed of chestnut breadcrumb stuff on the plate and then the grey squirrel on top of this. flanking the beast were two piles of too many roast potatoes. unpictured is the gravy i made from the scant drippings and other junk i found about the kitchen, mostly looking sad on my rather empty fridge shelf. delicious all the same.
the squirrel meat was quite tender, obviously a younger squirrel. my only judge of this was the meat tenderness, i imagine an older squirrel would be more exercised and thus tougher. please go ahead and point out all my inaccuracies in that theory. the taste itself was a strange hybrid of rabbit and duck with an underlying sweetness that i could only attribute to a life of eating hazelnuts and fruit in a forest somewhere. you really all should try some! not only does it taste good but it gives two fingers up to the vermin greys and lends a hand to our poor old red squirrels. as the butcher's who sent me this squirrel say - eat a grey, save a red.

i would also like to say well done to everyone who, like my chums and i, got tickets to Glastonbury this year! keep your eyes peeled for osgrow and powwow if you want to try something exciting and tasty! oh and for me in a meat related t-shirt. probably being attacked by some vigilante vegans.

4 April 2008

another strike thoroughly licked: ox tongue

a little note: it has been pointed out that british ox is indeed british beef. d'oh. this strike is void and out of the strike count!

cruising around the local deli counter seeking out as yet unchewed animals for the final week of the quest i came across what looked like a large cylinder of light black pudding rubbed with some sort of fat. closer analysis led me to discover that this was a standard example of ox tongue, so i promptly ordered some slices. upon even closer examination the slices were quite odd in appearance, whorls of small stringy bits a little like the structure of a tiny brain. there was no particular smell except that of a musty barn. i decided this meat would go into my lunchtime sandwich.the meat had a sort of dark, corned beef taste to it with a strange aftertaste that i could not shift from my mouth, pleasant all the same. the texture was surprisingly soft and almost melted in my mouth, but was just about tough enough to not feel slightly disgusting. all the same, i do not think i will be visiting the deli counter to ask for ox tongue again.

six days to go, three animals to eat. time for me to shoot off to london to drink much beer and see what people suggest i should eat for the final three. i'm also going to put a tenner down that someone suggests kebab due to it's natural ability to contain all 52 animals in one go. very good!

2 April 2008

rice puddsting: chocolate covered scorpion

another gift came my way recently in the form of three chocolate covered scorpions. these little tinkers were detoxified, thankfully. quite small, they were about the size of a spoon head and coated with dark, belgian chocolate. after considering many ways of eating the things, i decided (quite rightly so) on enjoying them with some rice pudding. yum yum. so, after enjoying a dinner of the rabbit and hare stew for the third night in a row, i tossed the three scorpions into a large bowl of the rice based dessert.after admiring them swimming about for a few minutes, i scooped up one of the chocolate fiends with the spoon. the poor blighter's tail fell off, but it was too late for him anyway seeing as he was encased in a chocolate grave. with a little apprehension i tucked him into my mouth and gave him a good crunch.
the texture of the scorpion was quite crunchy. on a scale of chocolate bars i would say it lay somewhere between a kit kat and a dime bar. more so kit kat though. it didn't taste of much since the dark chocolate was very distinct. whilst the pincers were the crunchiest part, the tail proved to be the best bit presenting a subtle peanut flavour to my taste buds.

eight days left, four animals to eat.

31 March 2008

one rabbit, one mad march hare and one massive stew. and i mean massive

the end of march (isn't the year going quickly?) and what better a time to eat hare. since it has been a bit cold recently i figured i could kill two birds with one stone, or should that be kill two lagomorphs with one stone, by bunging them into a big stew. the rabbit and hare had been conveniently diced by the wild meat company who had also left the hare bones in for stew reasons.after chopping up a whole host of vegetables - potatoes, parsnips, carrots, celery, leek and onion - the hare and the rabbit were sealed alongside some onions to be browned. chucking in the hare firstly with some herbs de province (mm lavender) you could see it was a darker meat to the rabbit. the aromas released were tantalising to say the least. next i sealed up the rabbit with some more onions which gave off an all together stronger fragrance. i piled all the vegetables and meat into a slow cooker set to high, added a fair amount of water to cover the majority of the ingredients and sprinkled on some oregano, parsley and thyme. with the slow cooker set to high, i disappeared for a few hours to discuss my ticket buying strategies for Glastonbury festival on sunday.
upon returning, the stew had made the kitchen smell incredible. i mixed up some chicken stock and poured that in, followed by some flour and cold water to thicken the stew up some what. another half an hour and some salt and pepper later, it was time to serve up. about time too as it was quarter to eleven! oops. reminder to self: start cooking sooner than 7pm. i buttered two end pieces of a big loaf of bread and dished out the stew into a bowl.
you could identify the hare and the rabbit by the colour of the meat, rabbit being somewhat lighter than the hare meat. the entire dish smelt fantastic and even writing about it now i am getting hungry - the bonus being that so much was made i will be a kept man in stew for days to come! consumption was a delight, all the flavours teamed together with the meats and traveled to my stomach with joy. out of the two, my favourite of the day was hare, bringing it's own subtle symphony of taste to the mastication event unfolding within my chops.

for dessert i scoffed down a rolo "yoghurt" thing. seriously, do not mock until you have tried.

well, by the time you read this it will be april 1st. this story however was no joke, i did have one lined up about eating a portion of my housemate steve's arm but i couldn't get a gammon in time. for shame.. this also means that i have ten days, including april 1st, to locate and consume five more animals to complete the quest i set out on almost 51 weeks ago. blimey.