The guns are blasting outside, so it must be hunting season
in Umbria. Mushroom hunters battle
for territory, clusters of men dressed in camouflage gather on the sides of the
road clutching walkie talkies in one hand and the lead of a barking dog in the
other. Cinghiale is hunted ‘in battuta’ meaning the hunters and their dogs bark
and whoop and flush the prey into a tight spot and then they shoot it. I have
mixed feelings about battuta style hunting as it doesn’t’ seem very sporting to
have 10 men with advanced weaponry, dogs and a lot of communication devices
chasing after one wild boar. On the other hand, the terrain around here is
seriously challenging, one misstep and you disappear into the bowels of a
bottomless ravine, so maybe it’s best for everyone if they hunt in a group. That
is, everyone but the cinghiale.
Dana McCauley’s recent blog post “How Bloodthirsty are you?”
is a lively piece where she grapples with her own issues about hunting.
I have to support responsible hunting because I love to cook
and eat game, so I can’t be wishy-washy on the subject. But, could I pull the
trigger? I just don’t know.
According to my dear friend Jay Cassell, a life long hunter
and big muckedy-muck editor at Field & Stream, the number of hunters and
women hunters has risen in the US to around 15 million, but as a percentage of
the overall population, the hunting population is shrinking and women account
for less than 10% of hunters. Jay thinks I should take up hunting, and maybe
I’ll go out with him when we get back to NY, if only to symbolically honor the
fallen deer (Because Jay, if I go out with you, I totally expect to come back
with a nice buck, none of this, oh better luck next time nonsense like you pull
with fly fishing!).
In Umbria, hunting is so woven into the fabric of life, you
just accept that in the fall it sounds like you are living outside the Green
Zone in Baghdad, it’s best to wear a red bicycle helmet and you always hope
that sooner or later someone is going to hand you a choice piece of cinghiale.
This weekend, we are serving cinghiale with black olives at the Taverna del
Verziere during our Festa del Bosco and I promise to say a small prayer of
thanks to the animal spirit. It’s the least I can do.
So, what about you? Do you eat game? Could you pull the