Wild Hog and Mountain Oysters

Survivors eat some pretty strange things–slugs, scrambled worms, and such–but I had not aimed to be that kind of survivor when these less than delightful meals were thrust upon me. I did dream of adventure, just not quite like this.

We had nothing in our furnished student apartment big enough to hold a wild hog. We owned two pressure cookers, one small and one smaller, wedding gifts. My mother had given us a cute little sauce pan, too, just big enough for boiling four eggs, not too big, she noted, for our tiny kitchen cabinet. Then there were one or two odd little pots and an adorable Corning ware teapot of which I was particularly proud. There was nothing big enough in which to cook a wild hog.

But Charles and two of his UGA Vet School buddies had acquired a wild hog, whether one shot it, or what, I don’t remember. They butchered it somewhere at the vet school. But where to cook it? Charles proposed we would cook it and the others would come help eat it.

We measured the tiny oven and went to Krogers to buy an aluminum foil roasting pan. With all pots and the roaster, the hog might be squeezed in. I insisted on our getting some potatoes and carrots, too, which wiped out our grocery budget. But we had to have something to go with that hog. This was our first dinner party, after all. Charles said it was just the guys, not to worry. I said we had to have potatoes.

As the upstairs apartment filled with the smell of that hog cooking, I was very glad we’d have vegetables, too, though it would take some ingenuity to work them into the cooking agenda on that tiny stove. The smell became more and more intensely offensive as the Saturday rolled into the afternoon.

We opened all the windows. I went for a walk but never seemed to shake that smell. This was not a nice smoked ham, mind you. It was a wild hog, specifically a wild boar. If you’ve never smelled one cooking, you have no concept of how bad it was. No words can describe it.

About 5:00 we began testing portions with a fork. The meat was tough and unyielding. Charles called the guys and told them to give us a couple more hours. We had to shift pots back and forth to give each a chance at heat on the three available eyes. I cooked potatoes in the teapot.

We finally sat down at our little table. Our two guests were big fellows. Either one could have used that table for a plate. They grinned like Hoss on Bonanza and tried to figure out what to do with their hands.

Charles always has said very good blessings and that was no exception. He thanked God graciously for the free meat and for good friends with whom to enjoy it.

Carter took one bite. Seaborn took one bite. They each drank a big swig of tea. Next thing we knew they were heading for the door.

“You mean they’re gone?” I asked in horror. “What will we do with all this meat?”

Charles was quite cheerful. “We’ll eat it. Can’t waste free groceries.”

We learned to eat slices of “the meat” cold. It didn’t smell nearly as bad that way.

All through the years, whenever we saw those guys at veterinary conventions (one became State Veterinarian Carter Black, the other a practitioner and farmer Seaborn Harden), we remembered that night when they wouldn’t stay and eat that tough odorous meat. In a way, I never forgave them, although I did laugh with them. They both admitted they thought they could eat anything, but not that.

One more time Charles landed me in a cooking situation that was less than pleasant.

We’d just moved to Cairo, Georgia where Charles was practicing veterinary medicine with Eugene T. Maddox. Charles announced at lunch one Friday that we were going to cook mountain oysters for Gene and a few of their clients. I think the phone rang before he got around to explaining what mountain oysters are. Anyway, mountain anything sounded good to me, I was so homesick for the hills.

I knew by then that in South Georgia you serve grits, baked beans, and cole slaw with any kind of seafood. So I prepared happily for this occasion. Charles said he and the guys would fry the oysters which seemed real nice.

It was while they were frying the little things and making a horrible mess of flour and grease when I overheard one client say something jovial about his hogs making such a noble contribution. Danger signals went off in my head. What had Charles gotten me into this time?

I trapped him behind the kitchen door and made him explain. Then I excused myself to other parts of the house for the duration.

That Friday Charles had “cut” several young boars, meaning they would never be daddies. That resulted in a small pan of mountain oysters. I never told my mother this story.

The worst part of the oyster story is that I was very hungry, and the “oysters” smelled good! I almost gag at the thought that I almost ate one!

My Daddy used to quote St. Paul as saying (I Corinthians 10:27): “…eat whatever is set before you, asking no questions for conscience sake.”

Okay, I guess if I were starving……..!

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