Fancy a bit of squirrel, anyone?
Published 8 August 2010
Squirrels seem to be the next big thing. Omnipresent in London’s parks, the endearing rodent is quickly expanding its territory, albeit in a somewhat involuntary fashion. For years it has been served by gourmet chefs, sold by specialised butchers and soon it might become a regular feature on the shelves of your local supermarket. But as a North London Budgens regularly sells out its supply of squirrel meat, squirrel stew is not the only thing to rave about…
I’ve always considered squirrels an excellent topic to spice up the next boring dinner party, although not quite as literally as now seems to be the case in the most trendy households. Rather I was planning on entertaining fellow guests with amusing tales of foolish squirrels and that delightful afternoon spent in their company (to which I would add a dreamy expression of wishful thinking and absorbed reminiscence or a charmingly cheesy “which, of course, is nothing compared to yours” depending on my host’s qualities). But back to that delightful afternoon: I had long planned to put those nuts remaining from last Christmas’ decorations to good use and trick a few of the fattest, most greedy squirrels into sporty activity. So I tied one end of a long elastic string around a nut, packed a snack for myself, grabbed the picnic blanket and off I went to the nearest park.
Having settled down in one of the quieter corners of the park, it wasn’t long before my first new best friend – or so I thought – appeared in the distance, approaching me with a mixture of greedy appetite and the last remnants of instinctive caution. Quite like an angler would with his fishing rod, I cast out my nut on a string. And waited, giggling with anticipation of the cat like play that was soon to enfold. I would wait until Mr Squirrel would be drawn to the nut and just when he was about to take it in his little paws, I’d pull back the string. Of course, I’d feed him the nut eventually, but until then there were numerous puzzled squirrel expressions to be enjoyed. I was awaiting a feast, pure comedy gold! Or so I thought. I waited. And waited. And eventually the squirrel did approach the nut. But before I could even pull back the string, it sniffed in disgust and lost interest, leaving the nut untouched. This wasn’t going to plan! I had not foreseen this eventuality, had not calculated for the gourmet squirrel eschewing anything but the most exciting feed. Frustrated I tore open the bag of crisps I had brought for myself. I was just about to cram a handful of crisps into my mouth, when I was subject to the most unsuspected tackle! I recovered from my surprise only to see Mr-little-bugger-Squirrel sitting at the foot of a tree in some distance, clutching a crisp, turning it incessantly while nibbling away the edges. This clearly wasn’t the sweet little anecdote I had wanted to tell at my next dinner party. Not all was lost however. I could still get some sort of conversation out of this, for I had made an important discovery: If you fancy yourself a bit of a gourmet and like a good bite of squirrel, you might want to consider rearing it yourself. Otherwise you will hardly get that nutty aroma and will have to settle for tangy cheese instead.
I wonder if someone should warn the manager of that Crouch End Budgens selling a dozen or so squirrels a week? I also wonder if vice could be a virtue? And if I should invest in a squirrel farm? As soon as squirrel is firmly established on our menus once more (think Victorian style feasts!), there will be a market for a range of flavoured squirrel meat. I could also offer a catering service organising squirrel themed parties. There would be squirrel assault courses for entertainment (examples to be found on Youtube in abundance) and guests would sip their drinks out of BrewDog’s stuffed squirrel coated bottles. A toast to the little buggers!