There weren’t a lot of rules in the Kimm Family household. In fact, I can only recall one actual “rule” that my mother implemented and strictly enforced: You Kill It, You Eat It. As undisciplined and unsupervised as my three brothers were as kids, they never broke that rule. (how different our lives may have turned out if my parents had implemented a second or even a third rule, such as “do your homework” or “don’t beat the living shit out of each other”). Long after my mother left my dad and her five offspring, it would not be unusual to find various small game sizzling in a cast iron skillet atop the stove: frogs, robins, chickadees, woodpeckers, blue jays, duck, geese, quail, grouse, rabbit, squirrels, chipmunks, nutria…whatever the boys could kill with a BB gun, a wrist rocket, and later, a .22 rifle.
Thirty years of “You Kill It, You Eat It” has culminated in my brother Andy’s ability to cook in a manner that reveals, honors, and maybe even exalts the natural flavors of Oregon wild game. Last night, he prepared a venison loin dinner especially for my enjoyment. It blew my mind – the part that tingles when I taste something unlike anything I’ve tasted before. I’ve had venison once or twice in the past, but had come away with a distorted impression. Isn’t venison chewy and doesn’t it taste just a bit like deer crotch? How wronged I had been by whomever fed me venison in the past! Venison loin is rich and tender and tastes like…venison. Nothing like a mustly ol’ deer crotch, but definitely reminiscent of the woods - of a primordial lushness I sometimes experience in dreams. The utterly lean meat had an unexpected lightness to it, and an almost silky texture. It was so tender, I could have cut it with a plastic butter knife. (That’s how the pros measure tenderness, right?) The venison was just freakin’ awesome. The wild picked Chanterelle orzo and the King’s Estate Pinot Gris didn’t suck, either. Overall, the meal was a really nice showcase of some of Oregon’s wild bounty. I’ll be thinking about that meal for a while, and wondering if duck hunting may be the right place for a novice to start.