Sunday, December 2, 2007

Gators, Pythons, and Bears Oh My!

I have blogged in the past about Savenor's, a famous little market on Kirkland St. in Cambridge that sells rare meat. The venison tenderloin that I declared to be the most delicious meat I had ever eaten was a Savenor's treat. I returned to Savenor's with some friends on Friday with more ambitious goals than venison - bear and wild boar. I also secretly hoped for some moose after reading John McPhee's description in the food issue of the New Yorker a few months back.

Unfortunately, our wildest gastronomic dreams were not to be met. While some grayish bear meat was available in the freezer to the tune of $50/lb, there was none in the fridge. I didn't see any moose at all. We were tempted momentarily by rattlesnake, farm-raised python (Ian now wants to be a python and bear farmer), and gator, but the meat looked far from appetizing. We settled on a French rack of wild boar and a hunk of venison loin. The crazy guy behind the counter declared that "venison is the tastiest treat in the world. Besides possum." I didn't know whether to laugh or engage him in conversation, so I awkwardly tried to do both, or neither. We paid our $45 and left for Chris's, whose barbecue (unlike ours) was ready to see some action.

Chris barbecued the wild boar after salting it and painting it in olive oil, while I mistakenly chose to pan fry the venison instead of throwing it on the grill next to the boar. Perhaps because the venison was a loin as opposed to a tenderloin, perhaps because I was lucky last time, or perhaps for some other reason, the venison was all but inedible. It seemed to be made up of two different and unfortunate animals haphazardly forced to coexist in one loin. The outer layer was mostly fat and gristle, and everyone in the room not allergic to salmon agreed that it tasted sort of like a really bad piece of salmon. The inner layer tasted more like a sick deer.

The boar was more successful. It had a nice, smoky, wild taste, and some of us (like Chris, below) ate it the way it was meant to be eaten (not me, I like knives):

In the end, we were glad to have tried it - mostly for the story-telling value - but won't be racing back for more any time soon. The prospect of fresh bear, though, might warrant a third trip to Savenor's.

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