CATEGORY: PORT TOWNSEND
Have you ever heard of brilliant people with brilliant ideas who just never get anywhere with them? Well meet yours truly, a genius in the bud if not the bloom. This is the story of one of my best ideas that never went anywhere. It all started when I read an article in a newspaper about how people in Japan eat sparrows. They put out a mash soaked in 80 proof alcohol; the birds come in droves, eat the mash, pass out, get skinned, roasted on hibachis–and eaten. Everyone benefits by this procedure because the birds die happily and they are pre-marinated.
Then almost the very next day I read an article about Starlings, telling how they got introduced into this country (by someone who transported to America one pair each of all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare) and itemizing all the damage they do. At the very end of the article it was mentioned, almost as an afterthought, that Starlings and Robins were both edible. Well who would want to eat everyone’s friend, the Robin? But Starlings???!!!!
At that time I was living in Port Townsend, Washington and it seemed that the only birds one saw there were Starlings and Crows. No one wants to eat crow, but there were Starlings everywhere. They chased all the other birds away. Yes, there were far and away too many Starlings. There were too many Starlings in the whole State of Washington. Old friends in Oregon told me there were too many Starlings in Oregon. This article informed its readers that there were too many Starlings in the whole of the United States and Canada. Well, if they were edible, why not eat them? That would be one way of keeping them under control and provide food for the starving masses. That was when the genius attack occurred. Why not write a Starling cookbook?
I started planning. First I must name the recipes. Here are just a few: Starting (excuse the expression) right out with alliteration, there was just plain old STARLING STEW, and then STARLING STEW TOO, and then STEWED STARLING, the latter being pre-marinated Starling from feeding them 80 proof alcohol. Then of course there would have to be FOUR AND TWENTY STARLINGS BAKED IN A PIE. There would be nothing too difficult with cooking those and writing a recipe.
Now I was warming up: there could be STARLING AND STRIPES FOREVER which would be Starling wrapped in a lo-o-o-o-o-o-ng strip of bacon, and OH MY STARLINGS AND GARTERS ( an old expression of my grandmother’s) which would be Starlings and noodles. TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE STARLING could be birthday starling loaf with candles. Or it could be Starling pre-marinated in champagne instead of 80 proof (whatever 80 proof actually is). STARLING LIGHT, STARLING BRIGHT would be lean starling flambeau. These starlings would need to be placed in a feed lot and given a totally fat free diet. After all, it is not fat that is set on fire but brandy.
Then………I was getting beyond just warm now: How about WHEN STARLINGS FELL ON ALABAMA? That could be cubed Starling tossed in a salad and served on one of those novelty trays shaped like………..but do you think this is a little over-the-top?
My not continuing with this break-through idea was that I wanted all the recipes to be real. I wanted them to be tried by me and guaranteed tasty, even delicious. I have never been a great cook but I knew I could do it. At least I could do the cooking part. The real problem was to get enough dead starlings to put in a pie or enough to invite someone over for flambeau. Also, it would be nice to de-bone them because—well—can you imagine getting a starling bone stuck in your teeth–or in your throat? The task of actually dressing and cooking them seemed overwhelming in my busy life. The dead end was that I never could bring myself to kill even one lousy (and they probably were) Starling. It was not that I didn’t hate the little bastards. It was that I could not get one to stand still long enough to whack it with a frying pan. As for putting out the mash soaked in alcohol–well, if I could find something that was 80 proof, I would surely drink it myself.