Wild Boar Is No Bore. A Wild, Wild Sausage. Santa Paula, CA.
Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)
Every sign of the day suggested that it was a day to celebrate life. Wild grasses ebbed and flowed with the cool breeze, rhythmic and alive. Leaves on an ancient oak played stray musical notes like dozens of wind chimes. Hidden in the vast chaparral were small, gentle voles that spread apart in the day and huddled together at night. Living their lives mostly on high alert, today, however, these small, gentle creatures welcomed the optimism and let their guards down ever so slightly, relaxing just a little. It was a holiday after all.
A lone wild boar who had wandered far from his sounder too felt this sense of well being as he rooted for something to eat. He snuffled for beetles, berries and all manner of rubbish. Not in the least particular about his ingesta as long as they filled his belly and took away the pangs, and at the moment, even a lizard seemed delectable to the boar. The flavor of any food would be enhanced by this enchanted day. But if the day had been a dreary one, his meal would be so as well. And, oh brilliant day, it was a choice one to eat like a wild boar king. He could not believe his fortune as he came upon a bounty of barley high on the ridge with no other animal in sight. It was a great chance to be the feral pig he was and eat every bit of it.
The bolt from the hunter’s crossbow flew straight and true. It parted the wild boar’s tuft of fur and pierced the thick hide, then cleared any bones and at last penetrated his heart. The tranquility of the moment was suddenly shattered by an agonizing and sustained squeal, then came a wet sputtering and finally dead silence. The half-masticated barley hadn’t even been swallowed and it never would be.
Everything was silent until the hunter came out of his position to collect his felled beast, then the life around began to chatter again, retelling the tale of the wild boar and his demise. The enchanted day continued for the rest of the prairie. But for the wild boar the holiday was over.
The dead animal was an older boar with tough meat from years of tough living. Its carcass radiated with the redolence of consistently indiscriminant dining and filled the hunter’s nostrils with a funk that induced tears. This would be a sausage pig, the hunter sighed. His buddies howled with laughter and tossed him a warm Pabst as consolation.
To combat the intense gaminess of this old boar, equally intense seasonings were necessary. The butcher suggested Cajun seasoning. After the old boar was ground, the Cajun spices were worked in, then the mix fed into a hog casing.
When grilled right, the casing is slightly charred with a moist yet crispy welcome. Although initially savory with the promise of more succulence to come, this anticipation is never rewarded. The fact is this boar was old and tired. The meat was dry, not quite jerky dry but pretty damn dry. He reeked and didn’t care — we’ve all had those days except this boar was committed to it. His meat tasted of a messy medley of meadow debris, slightly porky with a big bouquet of B.O. finished with a mercilessly pungent and loitering aftertaste. The peppery burn of the Cajun spices did well to temporarily distract from the skunky and funky but, with no effort, the sausage regained its signature sapor of sweat soon enough.
A wild sausage does indeed a wild boar make, but for a couple of reasons, the flavor of this unique meat quickly won me over. In the short time it took me to eat the sausage — from the first repulsive bite to the final convoluted taste — my opinion of it changed for the better but with a huge asterisk attached. Wild boar sausage is the stinky cheese of the sausage world. It clearly is malodorous yet complex with hidden delights peeking through its wilderness every now and again. If you have the fortitude, focus and patience, I encourage you to take a walk on the wild side, tune-up your crossbow and try some wild boar sausage yourself. Well, maybe you don’t actually need to hunt the savage, smelly swine. After all, eating it is harrowing enough.