Goat Salami (With Special Seasoning)
In 1982 Joanne’s brother Fritz moved up to North San Juan with his wife, Ruth, and youngest daughter, Holly. They had land near us, within walking distance, although walking involved hill climbing, creek wading and forging through nigh impenetrable walls of Scotch Broom. Fritz and Ruth lived in a trailer while Holly set herself up in a tent along with her misbegotten dog, Chinwester. For power they had a generator they ran long enough to depress themselves watching the evening news.
We also lived in a trailer on our own twenty acres with two kittens, two dogs, a horse and a burro. We also had no power, but at least we had started to build our house.
None of us had jobs. Budgets were works of fiction.
At the time we all had thoughts of living on our properties a la Mother Earth News and the Foxfire series. Vague thoughts, but no concrete plans. Wouldn’t it be neat to make our own Kailua or hard cook our eggs in the compost pile? Those sorts of plans.
We had nearby neighbors, John and Becky Burton. Becky had some goats, Nubians, the kind with Roman noses and droopy ears. John disliked the goats. He worked in the Bay Area as a steamfitter and when actually on a construction project was home only on weekends. Becky figured it would make for nicer weekends if the goats found a new home.
Becky gave us the goats. She was thinking “pets” that would fit in with our menagerie. We were thinking “food” that would fit in with our fictional budgets.
One of the goats was a special pet of Becky’s and she persuaded John to allow her this one personal friend. They came over to see if they could get the goat back. They drove up just in time to see one of their goats hanging from a tree, skinned, gutted, and halved.
John and Becky treated us to an eyeball dance as they looked frantically around to see which goat we had killed. Fortunately, we hadn’t killed Becky’s pet. In fact, we’d inadvertently done a good thing. One of Becky’s goats was a very mean doe. She had broken another goat’s leg asserting her authority. She also butted Fritz’ hand and drew blood. That was the one we killed.
We returned Becky’s pet, but John was so turned off by seeing goat halves hanging from an oak tree that he allowed all the surviving goats to return.
We decided that the best way to equally distribute the meat and still be able to consume it in sensible portions, rather than one gigantic, carnivorous binge, was to make goat salami. It seemed easy enough in Mother Earth News. Grind up the meat, mix in salami seasoning, roll into loaves, and roast. Fully cooked, the meat should keep for a while under ice box conditions.
We took the goat carcass apart muscle by muscle. Since we were going to grind the meat up, appearances didn’t matter. We ground the meat up with a hand-crank grinder, something they Heysers had brought up with them. Great, huh? You don’t need to go to the gym. You can grind thirty pounds of goat meat.
Ruth and I then drove into Sacramento to a meat packing plant to buy some seasonings since, for some strange reason, the local supermarkets didn’t have any. We mixed the seasonings in with the meat by hand using a huge, metal mixing bowl.
All of this food prep was done outdoors to a fascinated audience of meat bees. Meat bees must have incredibly acute meat sensing abilities because you can’t have meat outdoors for ten seconds without some scout discovering you. Rolling our goat salami as also an exercise in bee swishing, with just about as much swishing as rolling.
I was not as avid a swisher as I should have been because meat bees got into my salami rolls. To hell with them. I rolled them up and into the oven they went. I didn’t tell anybody about this at the time. I thought I’d let it be my little surprise.
The meat bees didn’t taste bad, actually. They added a little crunch to the salami and a bite like a hint of hot pepper.
Of course we ate them. We were all Depression Babies. You don’t throw food away.