5 Minute Read | by Gino De Blasio
Continuing with yesterday’s theme of displacement, talking not even of the small area in Holland where the race is happening today’s Giro Food looks at one of its main food products, venison. That’s right, if you’re a fan of bambi look away, now!
Stage 2 of the Giro is also a sprinter’s paradise. 190km, 7 hours in the saddle with a nice sprint finish in Nijmegen. If venison isn’t on the menu for the riders after that, I just don’t know what’s left of the region to enjoy!
Arcangelo Bianco Jr was going to have a bad day. As Time Magazine reported in March 2013, Arcangelo was looking to be getting a different kind of bargain at his local WalMart. ‘Bianco allegedly spotted the 10-point white-tailed deer while running errands on Nov. 26, 2012 in Blairsville, Pa., which is 30 miles east of Pittsburgh. He leaped from his truck, chased the deer and fired several rounds from a handgun at it while still in the Walmart parking lot, eventually bagging the buck nearby. Reasonably concerned, Walmart shoppers called 911 to report a man with a gun running through the parking lot.’
Bianco would later be arrested by Police; his convictions included hunting without an appropriate license as well as reckless endangerment. It seems fair, he did after all run through a parking lot and shoot his firearm at a deer.
It’s amazing what lengths some people go to, in order to capture, skin and eat their prey. It was understandable when we were cavemen, having to hunt was the only sustainable way to live, but now, we have shiny packages where our dead animals lay, ready for us to use some form of dry rub to add flavour for our meals. Arcangelo only had to cross the parking lot, walk into WalMart and see first hand how our food is already ‘prepared for us’.
It’s a far cry from the images of Robert De Niro in the 1978 film, The Deer Hunter. Never had an actor looked so comfortable in character when hunting for game. Aside from the not so subtle nuance of Vietnam war veterans struggling with life after war, Christopher Walken so creepy it could make your skin crawl, and John Cazale so mesmerising it’s sad to know it was his last ever film; the amount of people who to this day think that De Niro was in a documentary real life hunter because of that performance is astonishing; it’s also more than likely that they never got to the Russian roulette section of the film. Terrifying.
Alas, the focus of so much attention in the last two years and with more and more supermarkets storing the produce, it begs the question of, when did venison become so popular?
It wasn’t that long ago that if you said “I’m having venison for tea” you would be mercilessly mocked for being part of the bourgeois. The mental imagery would conjure something out of the posh side of the TV series, Downton Abbey (1). More recent incarnations would include, stately home, expensive wellingtons, ghastly white range rover, deerstalker hat, Burberry handbag and a flask containing juniper flavoured whisky. But now, even mere mortals can enjoy the flavour of a venison steak without being ribbed of socio-economic status.
More recent incarnations (of being someone from the elite) would include, stately home, expensive wellingtons, ghastly white range rover, deerstalker hat, Burberry handbag and a flask containing juniper flavoured whisky.
The deep rooted belief that venison is high-end linger less today than in previous years though. The perception that the meat is the Swarovski of game isn’t helped that the red highland deer looks befitting of wearing said jewellery makers finest designs. When in 2008, Country Life magazine campaigned that we should eat more of the produce, (notice Country Life magazine and not Nuts(2)) it pitted humans to sympathise more with the animal than with the culling requested by the range rover loving elite of Country Living magazine.
A google search for “what is better for you Venison or Beef’ produces over 640,000 results, meaning, a lot of people want to know, what is actually better for you, Venison or Beef?!
From burgers to steaks, joints to random cuts of ribs, sales in venison meat in the UK is set to increase by 400% in 2016. According to the website ‘thescottishfarmer’ (there must have been a horrifying boardroom meeting about that name) Scotland needs an additional 400 deer farmers to meet the demand over the next decade.
Low in fat, high in protein, low in cholesterol, it’s as if nature has decided to provide a superfood in the form of Bambi; and now we’re not scared to eat Bambi, here mother or any other cute animal that disney has created in the last sixty years with the exception of a mouse; especially one wearing red shorts.
The UK saw a massive seasonal shift in December 2015 when customers, more akin to ordering their usual Christmas turkey decided to prop up the sale of venison racks and roasting joints. According to Sainsbury’s (3), they saw their venison sales more than double (up 115%) in the same period from the year before.
New York hasn’t escaped the venison lovefest either. It seems that between the UK and America there is something that the audience have in common, ‘people are willing to try more exotic produce.’
Whatever you could do with beef, you can with venison, and thanks to programmes like Masterchef and other culinary tv shows, we have learnt how to cook game without turning it into a slab of something as rubbery as a disused car tyre.
Approximately, 400,000 are shot and thousands involved in car accidents every year, they shouldn’t be driving to start with.
In the UK, deer numbers have never been higher. Between the six species that are available to the shores, there are well over 1 million creatures who thrive in the woodlands and open fields of this land. Approximately, 400,000 are shot and thousands involved in car accidents every year, they shouldn’t be driving to start with. Wild venison has never been more sustainable! As the Guardian reported in 2012, ‘a single deer can devour an entire bed of lettuce in about a minute. They strip the bark from trees and munch their way through flowerbeds and fields. At a time when many grain farmers are facing significant difficulties owing to pressure from the supermarkets, promoting the consumption of venison might offer them some help.’
So in fairness, you may be mocked, or may have in the past. You may even be taunted for not loving the beautiful animal, but you are saving the countryside, eating a good quality meat, lowering cholesterol and now, you’re also fashionable. What’s not to love about venison?
If you fancy being lord of the manner, then Tom Kitchen has a venison recipe just for you to enjoy; it may be for hogmanay but as we’ve learnt, you can enjoy it year round! What if you took an Italian favourite, Osso Bucco and made it with venison instead of veal? Save a baby cow for Bambi… awww. Well Saveur have the recipe just for that.
1. Downton Abbey is based in Yorkshire and is the poshest thing to come out of Yorkshire since, Downton Abbey. Created by Julian Fellows, who is now a multi-millionaire thanks to the fascination of many a non noble viewer keen to know what the other half lived like in the early 20th century.
2.Nuts was a “lad’s mag” where you could casually find pictures of glamour models struggling to get into cars as they would always end up strewn across the bonnet or hood as they say in America.
3. Sainsbury’s is a supermarket in the UK. Many years ago it was seen as high class, befitting of selling venison. Now, if you want to sound upper middle class to high class, say you shop at Waitrose.
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