Monday, January 05, 2015

Wild Animals Bill of Fare.

The content on the final page (apart from the recommendations and testimonials) of Gancel's Culinary Encyclopedia of Modern Cooking (San Francisco, 1920) is most intriguing, and I give it to you without prior comment:

If you have wild animals it is very necessary to know how to feed them and what their food is composed of.
Deer, Dybowsk, Giraffes, Gnus, Oryes: mixed corn and oats; hay.
Donkeys and Chimpanzee: apples, bananas, cabbage, spinach, boiled potatoes, boiled onions, boiled rice, peanuts; Chimpanzee, add sherry, beer  or port wine to drink with meal.
Ostriches and Emus: carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach, bananas, apples, oranges, alfalfa.
Kangaroos: rye bread, alfalfa, cabbage and other vegetables.
Pythons: rabbits, rats, pigeons, lettuce, eggs.
Lions, Tigers, Panthers, Leopards, Hyenas: raw chuck steak, mutton, veal, horse meat.
Bear: biscuit, rice and milk, beef, rye bread, honey, pine-apples, soup, corn cakes, carrots, apples, fish.
Camels: mixed corn oats and bran; hay.
Hippos and Rhinos:Slumgullion, hay.
Elephants: hay, oats, bran and salt mashed turnips, beets, peanuts.
Seals: fish and cod liver oil

My first assumption, when I read the heading of this piece, was that it was a menu for a dinner featuring wild game – a not unusual type of event in the later nineteenth and earlier twentieth century. It is clearly the opposite however, and indicates the recommended bill of fare for a number of wild animals that the author of the book must have had reason to believe his readers might keep in their private zoos. I can honestly say that I have not come across this sort of advice in any culinary text ever before. One oddity stands out in this odd list: in the suggestions for Chimpanzees, the text adds “Chimpanzee, add sherry, beer or port wine to drink with meal.” Whose meal? The chimps? Or does this sentence indicate missing text from an article that was also intended to include cooking suggestions and accompaniments for the various animals?

The book does actually have a chapter offering brief culinary advice on Divers Exotic Meats - although chimpanzee and most of the other animals listed above are not included. I hope you like the following suggestions which do appear in the text:

Camel And Dromedary
The hump is the best part of the camel. See Veal. Kernel. Braised w. little curry, stewed w. camel stomach mixed w. sweet potatoes, green wheat or rice, sea[soning]. and little water smothered. Foot of dromedary vinaigrette sauce scalded, cooked same as calf's feet.


The native people of Capetown consider the meat of the hippopotamus excellent. It is boiled or roasted the same as beef. The fat is used in the place of butter.

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