A Partridge in the Pantry

I’ve never eaten partridge, though it is on my list of foods I want to eat before I die.

My personal food bucket list is kind of bizarre, but that’s part of what happens when your dad is the guy in the restaurant who ordered the snails on purpose.

The weirder the food was, the more likely my dad was to order it, simply because “when else am I likely to get the chance to eat this?” It’s one of the ways we are most alike, and I’ve put some foodstuffs in my mouth that many of the Americans I’m surrounded with would not consider to be food.

I’ve enjoyed octopus, squid tentacles, snails and mussels. I’ve dined on horsemeat and guinea fowl, willingly put fried grasshopper and dried African caterpillars in my mouth and developed a taste for fermented mare’s milk. Partridge would actually be one of the less adventurous foods I’ve eaten.

The list of foods I haven’t eaten but would like to is dominated by meats, but there are some notable non-animal exceptions. I enjoy quinoa, but I’ve yet to try amaranth grain or qañiwa (which isn’t just a misspelling of quinoa). Plants just don’t seem to get as weird as animals, though I have eaten durian, rambutan and several other rather nonstandard Southeast Asian tropical fruits.

My culinary adventures haven’t always tasted good, mind you. Eels proved to be a mistake; they didn’t taste all that great.  Buckwheat is only good if you season it abundantly.  And while fermented mare’s milk is something I really enjoy, the related Central Asian drink made with fermented camel’s milk is nasty.

However, I’m almost always willing to put some new bizarrity in my mouth, the weirder the better. I do have some odd holes in the list of foods I’ve tried, though. For example, I’ve eaten horse, (I think) goat and (definitely) wild boar and venison, but I haven’t had the opportunity to eat bear. I’ve eaten frogs, but have yet to try rattlesnake (and here am I in Texas) or alligator. I’ve eaten rabbit, but I’ve yet to sample the Andean speciality of guinea pig. I’ve eaten duck, but have yet to try goose, swan or pheasant.

Or partridge.

The weird thing in all of this is some of the common Texan things I don’t like. Sweet potatoes aren’t really my cup of tea anyway, but when you smash them to mush and bake them under a layer of marshmallows as a side dish to roasted turkey, that violates my personal Separation of Sweet and Not-Sweet. Similarly, jello salad would be quite nice as a dessert item, but does not belong on the same plate as my gravy and potatoes. I think root beer tastes like cough syrup. I hate peanut butter, especially in combination with chocolate.

This last one especially marks me as a culinary heretic in America as much as some of the stuff I’d willingly eat if it were available. Thank you, George Washington Carver and your Six Million and Thirty-Two Uses of the Peanut. Peanuts are nice, but Americans put them, and the peanut butter made from them, in everything, from chilli to chocolate fudge cake. If everyone had my taste buds, Reese’s would be bankrupt.

So I actually like the idea of a partridge in the pantry. Or better yet, in the oven, perhaps with a pear glaze.


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