« Me, Me, Me | Main | As Fresh And As Near As Now »

Open Features: The "Perks''

...There is a funny sort of reasoning among the young that if it comes pre-packed and jointed so that they cannot recognise it as an animal, then its OK to eat it. Likewise, even vegetarians may avoid meat like the plague but still take to wearing leather shoes or a suede jacket.

I was brought up with a very different philosophy altogether. If you eat it, that’s fine. If you waste it, then it’s not. Consequently, my children grew up to eat almost anything put before them and it is only in later years that ‘fads’ set in...

Mary Pilfold Allan, who savoured the delights of growing up in rural surroundings, introduces us to tasty treats such as Perkers and rabbit brawn.

To read more of Mary's engaging words please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=mary+pilfold-allan

Pheasants, the dandies of the game bird world, are called ‘Perkers’ where I come from. Why? Answers on a postcard please as I have no idea. They are truly magnificent and the one that struts around in the wood opposite our house, I have named Vince for ‘invincible’. He could of course, be son of Vince, or even son of son of Vince, it’s difficult to tell, but for sure, ‘Vince’ has been Lord of his Domain since we moved here 12 years ago. Which is why, to spare his feelings, I smuggled a recent gift of a brace of his kind into the house under cover of darkness.

Game birds have been part of my life from the time I was knee high to a grasshopper and my mother would send me down the cellar, descending a ladder into the pits of darkness where the coal was stored, to see whether the latest bird was ready, or to put it more technically, well hung. Mum, bless her, liked them to be almost green before they went on the menu, an appreciation I have not yet come to enjoy.

In post war Britain, having farming connection was a definite plus and the offerings that came our way helped to make up for the lack of choice cuts or sometimes any cuts at all other than whale meat, from the local butcher. I learnt to love the taste of anything that could legally be shot between September and the beginning of March, jugged hare included. Rabbit pie pre myxomatosis, was a great favourite and rabbit brawn, a strange ‘pork cheese’ adaptation favoured by my Grandmother, was one of the traditional dishes that I revived as a starter on Christmas Eve when my children were teenagers. A number of their friends would join us for the occasion and the look on their faces when they discovered what they had eaten and enjoyed, was amazing.

There is a funny sort of reasoning among the young that if it comes pre-packed and jointed so that they cannot recognise it as an animal, then its OK to eat it. Likewise, even vegetarians may avoid meat like the plague but still take to wearing leather shoes or a suede jacket.

I was brought up with a very different philosophy altogether. If you eat it, that’s fine. If you waste it, then it’s not. Consequently, my children grew up to eat almost anything put before them and it is only in later years that ‘fads’ set in.

Now as we enter the festive season, am I being fanciful for thinking there is a wiley look in the eye of Vince as he patrols the edge of his stomping ground? The two Partridge that regularly sit on our fence or plough their way across the lawn in search of titbits, have completely vanished off the radar. I am confident they will return after Christmas! Even the ever-strident peacocks a quarter of a mile away, have fallen silent, and as for the cockerel over by the allotments, he is feigning a sore throat. Christmas is coming and the geese may be getting fat but the birds about here are keeping a low profile.

As the credit crunch bites deeper, is it a possibility that poaching will become more popular, and that we shall see a demise in village pond ducks, a return to rustling? Will Vince remain invincible to father yet another generation of Perkers? Let us hope that Dickensian Days remain in the 19th century and that, whilst people appreciate the delicacy of game, it is done so legally.

Mary Pilfold-Allan
December 2008

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.