My husband, Michael, who loves nature and his rather eccentric, counter-culture pal, P.J., had driven about an hour away, up the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, to fish in one of the thousands of lakes which surround us. Driving home in the twilight, they caught sight of a porcupine in their head lights. Now Michael and P.J. had lived together in the wilderness for a month after university, surviving on fish, chewy, tough turtle meat, rice and coffee. Never one to waste good, organic meat, P.J. immediately yelled,
” Mike, pull over. Porcupine is good eating.”
The chance to sample porcupine meat is rare because you really are not allowed to hunt these lazy animals; laws protect them because they are so easy to kill. If a man is lost in the woods, he simply bops a waddling porcupine on the nose (if he can avoid the quills) and can soon eat a delicious, tender meal.In defence of these two hunters, I will add that this is the only time either of them has ever shot a porcupine.
The two acting survivalists decided to nail their kill to a tree right by the side of the road, simply skinning the carcass to avoid the quills and gutting it. Michael and P.J. arrived home chuckling over their good fortune, still debating the best way to cook the tender meat. Finally, they decided to stuff the it with a bread, onion, garlic and herbs and wrap it in bacon.
Suddenly a wicked idea popped into my head,
John was coming over for dinner tomorrow. He was actually extemely conservative in his tastes but loved to act artistic, cultured and sophisticated around us. In his eyes we were a boring couple with no life, stuck on a farm, saddled with a parcel of little kids.
“What if I served roasted porcupine for dinner tomorrow when John is here?”
P.J. burst out laughing,
” And don’t say a thing until he has eaten at least half of his meal. I would love to see the look on his face!”
The following evening John arrived wearing a tweed jacket with his shirt collar and cuffs pulled up over it, a scarf casually draped around his neck and a jaunty beret. Michael and I secretly smiled at each other as he raved over the delicious meal. Smiling mischievously I casually remarked,
“John, did you know that you are actually eating porcupine?”
He froze, fork held in mid-air with a brief look of horror on his face,
“Mel, you are joking, right?”
“Not at all”, I replied, “Since you are so very cosmopolitan, I just knew you would enjoy something exotic.”
John smiled weakly, nodded and then slowly lowered his fork. He did not eat another bite of his meat.