Tag Archives: feast of a thousand beasts


24 Aug


I turned 30 recently. To celebrate, I ate 30 species of animal. I also drank a LOT of sangria.

Aside from feeling like I need to lie down for a very long time, today was one of the greatest days of my life.

Here are the beasts that I and my guests feasted upon, and the form each took:

Anchovies — delicious Caesar salad
Crab — gluten free crab cakes
Clams — smoked clam dip
Tuna — tuna maki (Hawaii style with canned tuna)
Pig — bacon-wrapped dates
Cow — steak tartare with butteraise
Sheep — grilled marinated lamb
Goat — grilled curried goat
Kangaroo — Australian-style meat pies, which I insisted we call “Kangaroo Pouches”
Deer — Medieval style venison pie
Camel — ground camel meat kebabs
Buffalo — “Tanka Bites”
Ostrich — grilled ground ostrich with a sauce from Apicius (ancient Roman cookbook)
Pheasant — roasted whole
Duck — pâté
Chicken — chicken salad
Partridge — roasted whole
Quail — roasted whole
Snails — in the shell with butter and herbs (from Whole Foods)
Mackerel — smoked
Halibut — dip
Herring — pickled
Trout — smoked
Sardines — canned
Oysters — smoked canned ones made into dip
Shrimp — little bitty ones with cocktail sauce
Alligator — spicy jerky
Salmon — smoked, in salad, and delicious grilled
Scallops — ceviche
Flying fish — eggs (which we counted for the purpose of achieving a full 30!)

I also had ground elk, but we ate so much so quickly that I made the executive decision to not cook the elk, lest someone explode. Just in case someone challenges my beast count, I have some turkey breast in the refrigerator and I’ll try to get a nibble into my face before bed. No promises, I’m so full I really feel like I might explode.

I’m going to be eating leftover pheasant for lunch next week.

This is awesome.


BeastCount update!

23 Mar


On Friday I had Indian food for lunch including an awesome goat curry. For dinner that night we went out for sushi, and I managed a perfectly respectable four tasty species of fishes: salmon, tuna, amberjack, and mackerel. The sushi, incidentally, while not paleo (I opted to have rice instead of either getting straight up sashimi or asking if they could put it on cucumber), was incredible. Lots of tasty morsels!

This brings the total to 14. I have some lamb for Monday, but otherwise I think I need to start going out of my way a little to add additional beasts at a more regular rate.


21 Mar

I know all three people who read this are on the edge of your seats to know: “HAS THE CAVE HEDONIST EATEN ANY MORE BEASTS? LIKE SERIOUSLY GUYS I CAN’T HANDLE NOT KNOWING OMG!”

Here’s an update:

I ate some crab over the weekend.

Now I’m up to nine beasts. (Chicken, pig, cow, yak, elk, anchovy, turkey, buffalo, and now crab.)

Feast of a Thousand Beasts Update

14 Mar


Since the last time I posted, I’ve had:

  • Turkey
  • Pork (the last of the homemade bacon! so sad!)
  • Buffalo (delicious Tanka bites! the finest of snacks!)
  • Anchovies (in the form of the Asian fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce that I tend to slather over everything)

I’m also retroactively adding elk to the list. I know that’s cheating, but this project is more about my own curiosity to figure out what percentage of Noah’s Ark I’ve gleefully devoured than anything else.

This brings my total count to a measly 8 beasts.

At the end of this month I’m attending a medieval culinary symposium, one of the highlights of my year. I anticipate that a great many beasts may be added to the list.

The reader may notice the greatest deficiency: sea beasts. I like fish for the most part (and I love crab with an unholy fervor), but Better Half hates all things fish-like. I can sometimes get her to eat salmon, and I have observed her eating canned tuna of her own volition. Other than that, she pretty much won’t eat any fish. Since it’s also kind of expensive (if you want to get the good stuff, and if you’re not getting the good stuff I’m hard pressed to see the point) I don’t usually cook it at home.

Additionally, I will not, under any circumstances, eat cephalopods. In fact, this is the only ethical food restriction that I have ever adhered to for any length of time. I was a vegetarian (and later a vegan) briefly, I used to not eat bunnies and ducks because I think they are “cute,” but now I’m the kind of horrible person who eats foie gras and veal whenever I can get my fat little mitts on some. It’s not that I don’t have ethical feelings about food (I buy local, I work hard to investigate the sources of my food, especially meats, and more), I just don’t seem to have the usual ones.

But cephalopods are different. I watch a lot of Tony Bourdain’s body of work, and there have only been two times that I have averted my eyes: once when he ate something seemingly innocuous which made me feel really queasy (I don’t actually remember what this was, but I remember Better Half made fun of me — it was probably a deep fried Twinkie) and once when an octopus was about to be killed. I get sad at sushi restaurants when I see squid or octopus or cuttlefish. If calamari really were made from pork bungs, I’d order it. And this is also the only area where I’ll get genuinely upset by the thought that other people eat these animals that I don’t eat — when I think about how many cephalopods end up on dinner plates, I feel sick to my stomach.

I can’t really explain this. Cephalopods are incredibly intelligent, but so are pigs. They’re beautiful creatures with a complex social world, but so are geese. They are perfectly happy to live out their wild lives without us interfering, but so are salmon, and crab, and pheasants, and deer. It’s a double standard. I know that. But I still love them and can’t deal with the idea of eating them.

I feel as strongly about eating cephalopods as I do about eating whales. Hell, maybe more so — I was pretty incensed that I couldn’t eat that whale that got caught in the Klamath river a couple of years ago, and if I had a chance to eat an orca that had been traditionally harvested by First Nations people, I would probably try it (although I think I’d also possibly feel horrible afterwards). But I don’t think I could ever, EVER eat an octopus.

I like to believe that when our Squid Overlords rise up out of the sea and finally take their places as rightful rulers of the land, I might be spared the worst of their wrath. I think that perhaps they will allow me to dance for their amusement with my laughably insufficient number of limbs.

I’m pretty sure the rest of you are all totally boned, though.

A tasty method for elk heart

8 Mar

Marinated and Grilled Elk Heart(Or any other type of heart, I suppose.)

Start with a very fresh heart. Trim out the nicest, most even solid pieces of muscle (I tossed the remainder to the very happy dog). Marinate in a mixture of olive oil, red wine vinegar, saba (a grape juice reduction — if you don’t have this, use balsamic vinegar in place of the red wine vinegar), juniper berries, whole blade mace, whole peppercorns, a bay leaf, and some salt. I marinated it for a couple of hours in the refrigerator, shaking the container occasionally.

I’m not good at keeping track of quantities, but I would say I used approximately:

  • 2 T oil
  • 1 T vinegar
  • 1/2 T saba
  • 1 tsp whole juniper berries
  • 1 whole mace
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Build a nice hot fire in your grill, ideally using a combination of wood and high quality lump charcoal. When the coals are red hot but there are no flames, grill the pieces of heart for just a few minutes per side, until the outside is nicely seared but they are still very tender when poked.

Let stand 5-10 minutes, then slice. Top with finishing salt (I like locally produced Jacobsen’s).

This was A+++ — I love heart, and this is the best way I’ve ever had it. The spices in the marinade are all traditional game accompaniments, and have wonderful robust flavors that stand up well without overpowering the fundamental awesomeness that is heart. I buy my elk heart from a guy at the farmers’ market, because I am a soft city girl.

(Hmm, I think I’ll add elk to my list of beasts for this year, even though I ate this before I “officially” started my challenge.)


Nibbler has a posse

7 Mar

Nibbler has a posse

Let’s do this, little buddy.

New project: Keeping track of how many species of animal I eat in a year, starting retroactively from March 1st. I’ll only track each beast once, although obviously “pig” and “cow” and “chicken” are regular features in my diet.

Eaten this week so far: Yak, beef, chicken.

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