To grill or not to grill the roadkill?

photo by Su Yin Khoo
I’m very curious about eating road kill. My modification on a vegetarian diet is that I will eat anything that I have the fortitude to hunt, clean, and cook myself. If I don’t have the guts to kill it, or I’m squeamish of processing its guts, I don’t get to eat its guts. But what it were already dead? Not clean, sanitary store bought dead, but fresh and bloody accidentally dead, the car a chrome-plated predator. What a waste of life is a dumb deer run-over and left on the road, a mass of meat mush under tires rolling over and over. I’d rather someone eat it. That someone could be me, the scavengetarian.

I’ve never hunted so I don’t know very much about the acquisition and processing of carcasses. How fresh does the flesh have to be? Pretty fresh, I know, but what can I get away with? Do I have to see the car flipping the animal over its hood in order to know it’s recent enough? If the eyes are still firm in the head is it good to go? What’s the proper indicator?

I also don’t know how to dress a carcass. Seems like there’s a lot of fat and organs to deal with. Do I need to buy special knives or can I make do with my crappy kitchen set and a saw from the garage? I’d probably better start with something small like a squirrel. It’s not veal, it’s varmint. I’ve heard many of these critters have a strong taste and I haven’t eaten non-seafood meat in 16 years.

On my bike, I passed a crow pulling out the last edible meat from a flatted squirrel, yanking strings of tissue from skin and bone with its beak. “Yeah? Is that delicious?” I demanded of him in the high pitched voice I use when the cat eats a bug.

Next week, I’m giving a talk at OSBridge on citizen science, a movement of untrained people collecting data and contributing to scientific research. The presentation focuses on Mushroom Observer, a site for amateur mycologists to log photos, information, and locations of their finds. But there’s such a place for road kill, too. With iNaturalist, participants keep track of animals killed by cars for wildlife research. I’d use the app if I got out of the city more. Right now it’s just squirrel after squirrel and an occasional opossum. (I am not eating THAT.)

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