Among the starters at our local pub, The Thomas Lord in West Meon, Hampshire, was a dish I hadn’t seen on the menu before. However, the ramekin of potted grey squirrel, served with warm, crusty toast, turned out to be delicious.
Following the recent concern about the world’s fish stocks and the pressing need to eat sustainable fish, here was something local, free-range and a pest. If we managed to eat the whole damned population it would be a triumph, not only for our hard-pressed native reds, who are being steadily displaced by the greys, but also for our declining songbird populations, whose nests grey squirrels raid for chicks and eggs. Potted squirrel is, therefore, the perfect starter: delicious, slightly nutty, and full of feel-good factor.
And it gets better; it turns out that the gardener’s worst nightmare, the dreaded, invasive Japanese knotweed is edible. Crumble, fool or compôte would be ideal, as it tastes a bit like rhubarb. It’s best to use the young shoots.
The challenge must be for a recipe that uses both squirrels and knotweed to control the alien pair. I’ll have a word with the chef at the pub.