Monday, January 21, 2008

From the Vault -- Raccoon Supper

From an e-mail I sent to friends in February 2000 after attending one of the more unusual church fundraisers I've seen in my time -- an Annual Coon Supper, where the main dish was roasted raccoon:

First of all, I need to state that I actually gave the Coon Supper an honest effort and tried to enjoy myself. Unfortunately, though, this entire tawdry episode made that a little tough.

It all starts out harmless enough when the priest I'm visiting (the one in charge of the church where the Coon Supper is held) buys me my dinner -- an $11.00 value! As part of the sophisticated admission process, we sign in on the sign-in sheets they provide at the entrance. (I'm still not sure if that's for record-keeping purposes, for their mailing list, or for notifying next-of-kin...) Anyway, we sign in and proceed to get in line for the Coon Festivities.

As we make our way, cafeteria-style, through the line, I am treated to a five-pound plate of food -- not only is there coon, but also stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cole slaw, cornbread and cake. So, I figure, if the coon doesn't work out, I can always subsist on side dishes. So I dig in and start trying to enjoy my coon.

Now, I'm not really sure what I expected from a "Coon Supper", but I guess I had envisioned Coon Filet or Coon Mignon or Boneless Breast of Coon. What I get certainly isn't any of those. It's just a whole mess o' coon, bones and all.

Apparently, when you're "roastin' you up a coon" (that's a direct quote), you "pretty much just break it up a little and toss it in the roaster". Mmm-mmm! Whatever... So, I start eating this coon, and it tastes like a cross between beef and pork. And I'm picking through my coon and all of a sudden my fork hits something hard and I look down and I see a little raccoon shoulder blade in the middle of my plate. Of course, it takes all of my composure not to freak out at this sight; once I recover, however, I slip the little raccoon shoulder blade into my napkin and bring it home as a souvenir...maybe it'll make a nice keychain?!

Anyway, after the Shoulder Blade Incident, I try to make small talk with the priest, but he's having none of it -- too engrossed in his coon. (He even got seconds!) So, in a desperate attempt to fill the awkward, coon-filled silence, I (foolishly) say, "So how many coons does it take to feed a group this size?" (There were like 500 people there.) Well, the priest doesn't know, but he calls one of the leader guys over (presumably the Head Coon Roaster), who then explains that they had, and again I quote, "bagged us 'bout 235 coon" but that when they were cleaning the coons in preparation for the Coon Supper, they "found us eight or nine that didn't quite look right, so we threw 'em out."

So, first I do the math, and I'm thinking, "Wow! Half a coon each! What a bargain!"

Then, the full weight of the Head Coon Roaster's words hits me and I'm thinking, "You people will eat COON! What, in the name of all things holy, could possibly make you think that some specimens of this rodent-type creature are inedible, while others are perfectly fine?!"

Well, having that thought is a big mistake. Because then I start picturing all these diseased and disabled raccoons limping around the forest, all mangy and rabid. And then I start thinking about the good-enough coons who had been simply scampering around the forest until "bagged" for the event. At this point, my tummy starts to turn, and I have to start concentrating on my side dishes and begin hiding my still-remaining coon under my stuffing like a three-year-old.

So, while it wasn't a life-changing experience, I am now able to honestly say (if ever asked again) that I don't care for coon. I couldn't have said that before, so I'll consider this one of those "Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" kind of moments.


Emily said...

I think you are very brave for trying racoon. It reminds me of the village where I spent the first 5 years of my life where they had "Burgoo". Here's the site:

SSS said...

What the hump is burgoo? I clicked on the link and I still don't get what it is.

And where the hell is Arenzville, IL? I love that the directions to Arenzville on are "If you're coming from Jacksonville" or "If you're coming from Beardstown". Huh-wha?

Emily said...

If you don't know where Jacksonville or Beardstown are, then you probably don't want to go there. My mom told me "burgoo" was when people went out hunting and tossed everything they caught in a big pot and boiled it for two days (I think there was probably raccoon, squirrel, and maybe opossum). I don't remember ever trying it, but I remember the whole town had a very distinct smell.

SSS said...

"but I remember the whole town had a very distinct smell."

Blech. Just...blech.

Anonymous said...

I do remember being served squirrel with squirrel gravy as a child.

I may reveal myself to you later, but for now I will just be anonymous. You know...It was through this blog that I learned I am actually only 2 degrees from people I may not want to know this about me.

SSS said...

Well, yeah "squirrel with squirrel gravy." As opposed to "squirrel with any gravy other than squirrel" -- who would do that? Disgusting! :)

And I am intrigued by your identity and welcome you to send me an e-mail if you so choose to reveal yourself. Click "View My Complete Profile" to get my e-mail address...