Why should you think like a squirrel?

Harald Martenstein: About squirrels as a delicacy and dealing with animals

Elsewhere, people eat dogs and snakes, but dog steaks are taboo here. As far as I know, snakes are not even offered pureed. In the past, swans were sometimes on the table in this country, and those who have relationships still get them today. As I've been told, they're not quite as tasty as geese. If you happen to be an animal and don't want to be eaten, you should always know exactly which culture you are in.

Harald Martenstein

Editor of the "Tagesspiegel"

to the author page

No logic can be discerned here. The pig is as intelligent as the dog, so why blame the Chinese for barbecuing dogs? I am not a vegetarian, but I am very much in favor of treating animals properly, this is not the rule in slaughterhouses. Hunting is something completely different. A free life, then a shot, ideally a well-aimed one. In the days when there were no humans, living things like deer would have been eaten by predators. I respect everyone who doesn't eat animals, but I live close to nature.

Before I wrote about aggressive squirrels a few weeks ago, I didn't know how much some people hate these animals. This is evident from letters to the editor. The squirrel is evidently the old white man of the forest, gardens and green spaces. It looks cute and has not fallen on its head, but it has no respect for anyone and takes everything it has an appetite for.

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I owe it to Ms. and Mr. G. from Switzerland that they liked to eat squirrels until a few decades ago, but this is still the case with the British. They are captured in squirrel traps, for example. It is also possible to set a greyhound on them, but only if they are more than 50 meters away from the nearest tree. I owe the latter advice to the ancient historian, passionate gardener and squirrel critic Robin Lane Fox, a British. Fox wrote an essay about these animals that also includes the following sentence: "The painter Toulouse-Lautrec often ate squirrels in Paris and described the meat as pleasantly spicy."

In the USA they are shot and called "the chicken of the branches". Bentonville, Arkansas has an annual squirrel cooking contest, they can be topped with pizzas and even squirrel ice cream can be made. In 2019, the first prize went to squirrel tacos. Fox recommends a recipe from the book Classic Game Cookery by Julia Drysdale. Take three squirrels, sever the tails, and cut the rest into pieces. Soak them in salted water for 20 minutes, dust them with flour and melt 100 grams of diced bacon in a pan. Add the squirrel meat and brown in the bacon, then cover with apple cider and cover and simmer until most of the cider has boiled away. Now add two tablespoons of butter. Turn up the heat and brown the pieces again. The sauce consists of the cream and the gravy. The tails are arranged in a pretty triangle around the ragout.

Are you vegetarian? Then there is no reason to be more indignant about this recipe than about a Bœuf Stroganoff. Do you eat meat? These three squirrels had a better fate during their lifetime than any Wiener Schnitzel you have ever eaten. Squirrels are strictly protected here, pigs are sometimes treated like rubbish. There is also a kind of racism in dealing with animals.