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24 September 2014
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  Inside Out - South West: Monday September 13, 2004


Dead rabbit
Could your local A-road replace the supermarket?

A squashed animal on the roadside is a common sight on country roads. Less common, is the sight of the same animal on a dinner plate. Join Inside Out's Russell Labey as he gets a culinary lesson with a difference!

Retired civil servant, Arthur Boyt is an animal lover and enthusiastic conservationist, but one look in his freezer would make you think otherwise.

Arthur's freezer is a positive menagerie of native wildlife including pheasant, deer and fox and he is fast running out of space.

"The freezer is filling up," admits Arthur. "I can pass things by without regret."

All creatures great and small

Arthur's passion for animals began 50 years ago when he and his twin brother would roam country estates and free animals from traps.

Arthur Boyt

Arthur Boyt has an unusual taste in food

But Arthur's passion was not only confined to living creatures.

"We used to cycle to my sister's in Norwich, a trip of 110 miles.

"That would result in quite a bag of pheasants and hares," remembers Arthur.

"My sister always looked forward to our coming to replenish her larder."

With an enthusiasm for wildlife, Arthur originally considered becoming a gamekeeper, but the cruelty he associates with blood sports brought about a change of heart.

"When I came across the gamekeeper's gibbet with 15 owls hanging from it, it opened my eyes to the abhorrent side of shooting," says Arthur.

In their natural wrappers

"It's not killing them for the sake of eating them. They have been accidentally killed… they are organic and in their natural wrappers."
Arthur Boyt

As a vegetarian, Arthur's wife Sue doesn't share his taste in meat - let alone roadkill - but she agrees with Arthur that it's a natural and environmentally friendly way to dispose of animal carcasses.

With a degree in biology, Arthur can confidently identify fresh meat from a diseased carcass. He cooks the meat at a high temperature for a long time, ensuring it is safe to eat.

"For years I've lived off roadkill and my own vegetables," he explains.

But roadkill is not to everyone's taste.

"And a nice Chianti"

In the UK in particular, there is a stigma attached to the eating of alternative meat.

Roasted roe deer being carved
Sunday roast: This roe deer was knocked down near Callington

Just a few years ago it was hoped ostrich meat would nestle next to chicken thighs in every local supermarket - it hardly took off.

Yet a trip across the channel finds frog's legs and snails on the menu, whilst those "down under" regularly throw a "Skippy" steak on the barbie.

But it is the eating of domestic animals that causes particular controversy in western society - the thought of Tiddles, or Fido served up on a dinner plate is not too popular.

In Asia, however, dog is considered something of a delicacy and Arthur insists he can see why.

"I have had dog, they are tasty, they border on lamb," he says.

Skeletons in the cupboard

Arthur's interest in animals goes further than flavour - he keeps a cabinet full of specimens including skulls and a rat's carcass.

Skunk skull
A skunk skull is one of Arthur's rarer finds from America

He has also set up various sanctuaries for birds, mice and voles in his garden.

Despite the fact that some of Arthur's meals may be on the endangered list, eating roadkill is perfectly legal and as Arthur would argue, environmentally sound.

Some of Arthur's more unusual meals have included a greater horseshoe bat and otter.

For our Inside Out presenter Russell Labey, Arthur serves up roasted roe deer and badger stew, that despite reservations, Russell admits "tastes just like braising steak."

So as you drive to your supermarket or butcher for tonight's dinner, keep your eyes peeled and your mind open and you may not have to drive that far!

See also ...


On the rest of the web
Meat UK
Alternative meats

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Readers' Comments

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Rupert Buryan
Last night 5 of us sat down to Signet casserole, and it was absolutely delicious. Being a road casualty I could not hang the carcass, but left it in the fridge for a few days. I then braised it and placed the meat in a rue sauce of cider, mushrooms, onions, shallots (sweated in balsamic and butter), creme freche, port, mustard, red currant jelly and celery pieces, served with apple sauce, homegrown runner beans, carrots and roast potatoes. The poor signet was a road kill - not by me, near Penzance. I stopped to make sure there was nothing I could do to help the bird and discovered it very firmly dead. The taste was similar to wild duck.

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