Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Hunting Down Wild Meat

I was away long enough from the Ohio Valley Region. Yes, my veins were pulsing for good food. As two paths diverged in a yellow wood, I took the one less traveled outside Wheeling, West Virginia. There, I sought out an unexpected gem of a meal fit for a woodsman. Cabela’s: “The World’s Foremost Outfitter for Hunting, Fishing, and Outdoor Gear” had my gem.
With glass-eyed animals, frozen in time, keeping watch over my clumsy stumble through the store (lambasted with guns, knives, fishing poles and bait) my nose knew there was food waiting to be swallowed down my fat throat. I glided upstairs (yes, this den has two floors) and found myself staring at the “Grill and CafĂ©” area. Embedded in stained wood with large steel slabs layered on top, this was the home of a Wildman butcher. My heart stopped in faint fear and my stomach cried like a lost buck as I stared at the strange menu. There was so much. I could feel my heart start to pound again as I raced over the list of “Deli Sandwiches” ranging from Caribou to Wild Boar. Flashes of recently hunted animals, being dragged into Cabela’s back door, banged in my head as I saw more items such as Ostrich meat, and Venison sausage. The jungle drum in my chest beat a steady rhythm that caused me to step forward to the counter and ask for an Ostrich sandwich on Whole Wheat bread. The meat, looking like roast beef, was slapped on the bread and a medley of cheese and vegetables were layered on top. I stood there, waiting like a caveman in a saber tooth loincloth, slightly depressed that I was not hunting down my own Ostrich with my wooden club, but eager to gorge myself with the flesh of a wild bird.
My sandwich was done and I added some less-prehistoric food to my meal, like Sun Chips and Dasani. I ogred my way to the pay counter, sat down, then ripped my way through the fresh meat. The sensation of digesting this exotic animal savagely coursed through my body and I felt united to my ancestors of old, running through the savannas of Africa, spear fishing off the coast of Spain, or setting traps for unsuspecting rabbits in the forests of Bavaria. Yes, this is where I longed to be. This was the time machine in which I could feel my primordial roots run deep into the rich soil of West Virginia.
I finished my sandwich, chips, and washed it down with my bottled water, cleansing everything like a fresh dunk in a cold river, and left that Mecca of outdoorsiness with a full belly and a satisfied face. For about six dollars I was able to experience the wild food that my suburbanly domesticated family never slopped on my plate. This was not only a meal, but a venture through the undiscovered country of hunting and fishing that I never knew was out there.

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