Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor Abigail Greenbaum received her MFA at the University of Mississippi and now teaches English and writing at Berry College in Georgia. Follow her on Twitter @AbigailGreenb.
People from Atlanta call Tommy Haskins several times a week, begging him to sell them feral hog. “It isn’t legal to sell the hogs we hunt,” he tells them. “But you can come down to Twiggs County and shoot one.” In order to sell meat to the general public in Georgia, the animal must arrive alive at an approved processing facility, and be inspected prior to slaughter.
Feral swine eat a low-fat diet. Most are too lean to use for making bacon, even the 160-pound hogs that Haskins and his clients bring down. Folks searching for feral hog are often immigrants from Vietnam, where lean pork is wrapped with banana leaves in a dish called gio lua.
Local food advocates also clamor for field-shot pork. Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish, written by the Texas hunter and chef Jesse Griffiths, includes recipes for smothered wild boar chops with anise brine and wild boar rillettes. Haskins doesn’t bother with anise brine. He prefers hickory-smoked hams, basted with apple juice.
On his property southeast of Macon, Haskins rarely goes a day without glimpsing hogs, which he calls “piney woods rooters.” These hogs have mixed pedigrees. Some may have descended from Spanish swine introduced in the 1500s. Others are released or escaped domestic pigs that bred with Eurasian wild boars that were imported for hunting.
Ask, and you shall receive. We implored CNN Political Producer Shawna Shepherd to suss out the secrets of vice presidential candidate and avid hunter Paul Ryan's much-vaunted homemade venison sausage, and goodness, did she deliver.
According to Sunday's pool report, the secret to Ryan's venison sausage is spices from Tenuta's Deli ("A Kenosha Tradition Since 1950!") where he spoke with reporters while purchasing supplies for this year's haul.
Hunting and fishing are on the rise for the first time in decades.
While hunting has always been a way for self-sufficient people to feed their families in a poor economy, another theory for its current popularity is that it can also be an affordable "staycation" for people trying to spend less on their vacations.
Steven Rinella, host of "Meat Eater" on the Sportsman Channel and the author of a just released hunting tome of the same name, says there's more to it. As an increasing number of Americans become interested in where their food comes from and want to play a part in making it, Rinella says that many are newly compelled to try killing their own meat.