As a female chef, she’s got the looks, the shtick, the high-profile presence on cable channels and oh yeah, one other unique attribute: She prefers squirrel meat over the other protein choices available to a modern culinary artist.
She’s Georgia Pellegrini, chef-author of the new book “Girl Hunter”—Amazon.com’s Book of the Month—in which she appears on the cover armed with a pair of weapons—a shotgun and a cast-iron skillet.
“I hunt and gather myself, and hone my pioneer skills. I seek ingredients that are anchored to the seasons and a definite place. It’s the kind of food once served in simple restaurants and in homes by housewives and today by culinary artisans choosing to do the hard work required to live off the best their hands can produce.”
As something of a Rachel Ray meets Elly May Clampett, Pellegrini has latched onto a unique appeal that cuts through the unbelievable clutter of the cookbook/celebrity chef world by touting squirrel meat, an ingredient available only to those daunting enough to hike into the woods and personally “harvest” it.
But that backwoods skill aside, she makes a pair of compelling arguments to support her commitment to those pioneer skills: One is culinary, the other cultural.
As a chef, Pellegrini insists that squirrel is “some of the best meat in the woods—I’ve come to think that it may be the best meat—period.”
How so? “The phrase, ‘you are what you eat’ befits a squirrel as much it does a Spanish acorn-fed pig that are prized so highly by those with means,” she told Fox News in a one of her many book tour interviews. “When you think about it, after feasting on acorns, [squirrel] meat is nutty and sweet, buttery and tender. It can be even better tasting, and much more economical, than Spanish [pork] that sells for $170 a pound.”
Of course, any urban or suburban dweller has to ask the obvious question: You see them hanging around apartment buildings, city parks and people’s backyards. Aren’t squirrels really just big tree rats?
To a chef like Pellegrini, absolutely not.
“Squirrel hunting is more American than apple pie,” she boasts in her book. “Whole traditions have formed around these squirrels, and guns have been crafted in their honor. Few things are more intertwined with American history and tradition, and in fact, squirrel is one of the most popular game animals in the eastern United States, with close to two million hunters who annually harvest the critters.”