Raccoon Stew and Squirrel Kebabs

The Southern Foodways Alliance, a Mississippi-based group that “documents and celebrates” Southern food, is working on a cookbook to be published by the University of Georgia Press in 2009. According to Bon App├ętit’s blog, SFA is looking to include some previously unpublished family recipes—particularly if they include ingredients such as raccoon, possum, squirrel, pawpaws (a nutrient-rich fruit that looks a bit like a fat banana), mayhaws (a crabapplelike fruit), and “Rough Fish—Gar, Goo, that sort of thing.” (For those who are not familiar, a gar is a long-snouted fish that has its own Anglers’ Sporting Society. Goo or gaspergoo is another name for the freshwater drum.)

The question is, are these going to be purely historical recipes, or are people still cooking this stuff down South? Apparently, some folks continue to chow down on possum and raccoon, and a good friend of mine from Kentucky raves about his family’s burgoo, a slow-cooked meat and vegetable stew. He says that past generations made their burgoo with squirrel meat, but nowadays, he just substitutes chicken.