Eating squirrel

Well, maybe it’s something planetary but today has been weird. Maybe it’s because I knew I had to eat squirrel. Fergus Drennan came up from Herne Bay. He brought with him an assortment of wild herbs and mushrooms and, of course, his dead squirrel.

There are various rules about ‘RoadKill’, one being that if you deliberately kill a wild creature, you can’t eat it. But if you find it mangled in the kerb then it’s all yours, baby! Badgers can feed a family of eight and muntjac deer can feed a family of blue-blood. When faced with the squirrel, I took a moment to decide whether or not I could actually put it in my mouth.

Fergus brought in wild garlic, which upset all of us since it has blossomed three weeks earlier than it should. Global warming is the culprit. We had tiny little garlic shoots with their roots still on to garnish nettle ravioli and squirrel and herb ragout with a tomato sauce.

I’m sorry to say I couldn’t put the little rodent into my mouth. I pretended and nibbled at the nettles, which were bitter but good, and even got my gums round a whole pile of wilted weeds. But I’m afraid, unlike Beth Ditto, lead singer of the Gossip, I did not grow up in Arkansas on squirrel pie. Must be the first time I didn’t put something in my mouth.

The lovely Lesley Waters made a bread in a flower pot. How easy just to wash the pot, grease it and put the risen bread in the oven. Lesley prepared all the dry ingredients and told me to mix the fresh yeast with some sugar. Before you could say Hovis, it had turned into a liquid smelling of your local brewery. Lesley added it to the rest of the ingredients and half an hour later we were eating hot bread from the flower pot with butter, pear chutney and stilton. I get paid for this?

Richard Phillips of Michelin fame and marathon running made a cheese cake that was so evil I had five too many spoonfuls. And the lovely Sarah Jane Evans brought in a selection of sticky puddings that made my blood sugar go through the roof. Another good day was had by all.