The secondary eyelids blinked repeatedly over her avian eyes, nearly popping out from the pressure I applied to the ribcage to force the air out of the lungs until the bird’s life was gasped out in a final breathe of air and the eyelids flickered no more, glazed over in death.
The next day, I greedily sucked the spit-roasted goose eyeball into my hungry mouth. I am thankful that the bounty is good this year. And I made it a point to bring some cranberry jelly to round off a well-cooked feast of meats and fats.
With a calorie count that soars into the thousands per pound, the goose is a favorite for Cree cooking. The nutritionists and gourmets among us can all agree on one thing: the foie gras is good with wine.
The spring goose, with its countless merits and ways to preserve and serve, is best when fattened to grease-ball status, then rendered into a food fest gone wild. The ways to make a goose into a feast fit for a grease-happy clan are simple, yet precise.
Take the smoked goose, for example. The skin of a goose is hung to smoke until it is deemed just right to take down, not too late and rotting from heat, not too cool and still moist from blood. The fatty skin is then boiled when needed to a delicious tender delicacy.
The liver, in the fall, when mixed with berries and fats, makes for one of the many forms and styles of the popular bimcan (or pemmican to those in the know) and creates an intense, meat-flavored, energy source.
The lungs torn out of the ribcage can be tossed into a blood soup and served to those who have few teeth.
The fat, rendered and stored in the bird’s intestine, is then served later in the fall with smoke-dried fish or added to a fish and berry salad.
The meat can be cooked either whole or cut up, or roasted, boiled, smoked, dried or fried. We have a bewildering variety of ways to cook the proverbial goose.
The heads, necks and feet with oats is everyone’s favorite way to start their day.
Meanwhile, the innards and intestines slowly simmered until crisp is another lunch. And the list goes on.
All these culinary delights make the patience of the goose hunt a worthwhile endeavour. The work to make it edible is just as arduous. The plucking, while tedious and often hard on backs and fingers, is tackled with glee.
Sometimes, after the hundredth one goes by, it’s time to enlist the nieces and grand daughter to carry on traditions. Flying feathers abound in the cleaning area, usually the kitchen, but one makes do with the down. Enough down to fill a sleeping bag is worth thousands today and the modern-day hunter appreciates the handmade down-filled canvas coats on a cold wet day out on the bay, again remembering the efforts leading to his warmth out in the elements, when nature emphatically disagrees with the sunny forecasts and instead provides a heavy sleet of ice and snow.
We should always remember to be thankful for a good year. In recent years the goose hunt has been slack, with changed migration routes and unpredictable weather, but it seems that this year is a good one.
Just about everything about a goose is good, even the feathers.