Wednesday, April 14, 2010

White Rabbit

"There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by expirience. And then there is California."
- Edward Abbey

A simple haitus....duty calls. Breed recklessly, eat pellets of grassy green, grow rich and fat, I'll see you in May.

Mary Vassallo’s rabbit, Maltese style
1 rabbit, cut into portions
Rabbit heart, liver and kidneys
3 medium onions, chopped
12 garlic cloves
1 cup red wine
3 tomatoes peeled and seeded
1 cup frozen peas
Olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon mint, parsley and basil
• In a large frying pan, heat olive oil and fry rabbit offal and pieces till brown on all sides. Place in saucepan. Fry onions in the same oil the rabbit was fried in until soft and add garlic and tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes are mushy then add seasoning, herbs and a cup of water and let simmer for 10 mins. Meanwhile, sprinkle the rabbit pieces with wine then cover to retain heat. When the sauce is done, pour over the rabbit pieces. Stir, cover and let simmer gently for about 1 hour or until rabbit is tender. Check cooking at intervals as it may dry out, add water very sparingly if necessary. Add peas halfway through cooking.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Letter Recieved.

" April 3, 2010; Overseas Air Mail

Responses to 'Down the Bunny Hole'

1st Reading--what the hell?
2nd Reading (2 hr. later): This might be serious
3rd Reading (2 days later): This could be a culture thing--similar to jet lag--?
4th Reading (2nd page only): Where can she find meat? Red meat! Will her new 'friends' desert her? Can she overcome the natives?
5th Reading--(preparation of 'bunny' food): My grandma used crisco and bread crumbs--fry, baby fry---
6th Reading--this may be the one thing she remembers about Australia--I wonder if that's why they talk funny--?
Ever read Watership Down? See Alice in Wonderland--preferably after a 'wabbit' dinner--

Love ya--
Grandma "

Sunday, April 11, 2010


"A great many people now reading and writing would be better employed keeping rabbits."
- Dame Edith Sitwell

Bunnies: 4

Wallace and Gromit: 0

Notes from the field: A twilight setting after a meal of mushrooms,Thai spinach soup and Malbec. One bunny spotted in the bush. Encouragement. Early morning rise, three snares untouched, one trampled. Bunnies galore. Taunting. Analysis: Snares too large? Settings along the fence should be positioned on the return run, not the out? Possibly too close to the ground--need to give room for hops?

"'Animals don't behave like men,' he said. 'If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill they kill. But they don't sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures' lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.'"- Richard Adams, Watership Down

Saturday, March 20, 2010


• A good knife is essential. Make sure your knife is clean and sharp before carefully packing it away with your hunting gear.
• Specialized gutting knives are good for inexperienced hunters as they reduce the risk of puncturing the gut [Editor’s Note: or severing the tendons in your fingers!].
• Take a clean carcass bag or cheese cloth to protect the meat from flies, dirt, grass and other potential contaminants that you don’t want to end up eating.
• Alcohol-based hand cleaner is useful for sanitizing your hands when soap and water aren’t available. They can also be used to clean your knife and other equipment.” – New Zealand Hunting Guide

"Without a sense of humor, you’re better off dead" " — Roger Rabbit

This morning, after a short swim and a long latte, I decided it was time for the hardware store. The girl at the juice place drew me a napkin map and I went straight from there, sandy feet and all. I walked in the automatic glass doors armed with a measurement conversion application on my i-phone and a penciled list pinched from ‘’. I decided to ignore the two pornographic wet spots my bikini had made on the front of my shirt and the fact that my bum hung out of my too-small beach shorts, hoping that if I did the store staff might do the same. I made it in unnoticed and bee-lined it to the back.

The stakes are easy to find, conveniently arranged in the garden section. Metal or plastic? Both. Then, wire cutters – cheap ones, but good enough for last minute repairs in the field. So far so good. I add a measuring tape and some trash bags—off list. Last stop: twine. Looking, looking; then, NABBED! The large, older gentlemen from behind the counter finds me. “Can I help?” “Twine” doesn’t seem to translate. He says he doesn’t have any but I figure it’s my fault. I rack my brain for another word for twine. At this point I realize that he has noticed my fairly obvious guilty conscience and seedy attempts to avoid eye contact. He looks from my list to my flip flops to my basketful of body-disposal supplies. “What is it for?” Shit. Shit, shit, shit. I try to come up with a story. I look in my basket: Wire cutters + wire + trash bags + stakes = a horse’s head in your bed? Come on, think! Too much red wine with the Thai takeout last night – I’ve got nothing. I fold under pressure. I look at him as apologetically as I can. “I’m going to catch a bunny.” I’m such an asshole. I look down at my hands, embarrassed, and wait for him to call someone and for that someone to take me away.

“Oh.” Pause. “With a snare?” Uh-oh. I knew this was stupid. I shake my head, just a little – not enough to be dishonest but enough to cast some doubt, then sneak a look around the perimeter for bee bee guns, or pellet guns, or any guns for that matter – I’d have gladly bought anything that seemed like a rational rabbit killing tool to save face. I briefly consider ditching the basket and running out the front. “Well, I guess you could try nylon but I think you’d do better with thin rope. You don’t want it to stretch” he says, unmoved. Classic. Really? Is it really the case that an American tourist fresh from a one-woman wet t-shirt contest on a killing spree is no big surprise? He asks me where I’m going to set my snares. I tell him. Another bad idea: totally not private land. I ask him what he thinks. He shakes his head and starts walking towards another aisle. I follow. I’m sweating and probably wear a nervous wince. As he rounds the corner he launches into a diatribe about his garden; how frustrated he is; the various methods he’s tried; that he thinks about killing those damned rabbits all day at work and when he gets home they’ve eaten his last head of lettuce; that he doesn’t care about even his own objections to poison he’s had it up to here and his wife is pissed and he hates to do it but he’s giving in to the 1080 and there’s a town hall meeting tonight on the Rabbit Extermination Program for the area and he and the missus are going and do I care to join? For a split second I consider it, but then I chase him down the hole. I tell him I’m planning to eat my bunny. A small rise, one eyebrow. He hands me the rope. He rubs his chin. “They’re good in stews,” he says – then he walks back to his counter. I think I like it here.

I pile the goods in front of Mr. Fudd. As he’s ringing me up, I notice a bit of shiny red plastic out of the corner of my eye: Judge Doom’s gloves. The ultimate barrier between me and my reservations! An impenetrable crimson barricade to block the unmentionable! Wait—is this cheating??? Who cares. They go up to my elbows and they are coated in PVC. I grab them off the rack and put them on the counter. I last a whole two seconds, then burst into uncontrollable, maniacal giggling. I am mortified.

As a kid it was so simple: Bugs good, Elmer bad. Good guy vs. bad guy. As an adult things seldom remain so black and white. There’s almost always a bit of ambivalence about who the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys are. In popular culture Hitler is the standard for pure evil and Ghandi for pure good but the spectrum in between has every shade, not to mention the fact that (though it in no way forgives him) Hitler was reputedly a great guy in person – the sort of fellow you’d love to have a beer with, to use the parlance of our times – and (though it in no way diminishes him) Ghandi was reputedly hard to work for. In my present Elmer V. Bugs conundrum and in Bugs’ favor, it’s awkward to be associated with a civilization that simultaneously tends toward a policy preference for native animals and a policy preference for non-native humans. Each preference has had its moments of inhumanity, and, at least in the case of the latter, monstrosity. Even if the only opposition between the two preferences is tropic it still deserves a bit of consideration. Insofar as we are capable of reflection, capable of a rational determination of boundaries and definition of right and wrong (or good and bad), our treatment of animals deserves consideration alongside our treatment of people.

So…what to do with those pesky wabbits??? Next to my (canvas) bag of tools, I am in need of some definition. I start with my central question: Is it ethical to eat meat? To which there are at least two subsets:

I. Is it ethical to eat meat?

a. If so, how?

b. If so, what?

These, in and of themselves, have their own parameters which blend together at various points. I.E.:

I. Is it ethical to eat meat?

a. If so, how?
i. Gun, snare, stake, axe…
ii. Organic, not organic; kosher, not kosher; halal, not halal;
invasive v. native; wild v. domesticated
iii. Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Vegan, Anti-lactose, No pork, etc.
iv. Working conditions, minimum wage standards, gender
inequalities, shipping distances, shipping practices, land ownership/ exploitation…

b. If so, what?
i. Goat not dog, shark not whale, cow not horse
(sometimes), kangaroo not koala…
ii. (Mixed with how): Freerange v. Not, Antibiotics v. Not, Organic v. Not, Local v. Not, Farmed v. Wild, heart not lungs, liver not brain (sometimes), muscle not fat (not usually)…
iii. Cost, availability, in season vs. not in season…

So in many ways, ‘a’ and ‘b’ are the same question. Of course, ‘how’ and ‘what’ can pale in the face of ‘how much’, specifically, at the check-out counter. Then tack on ‘status’. I find myself strategically placing the Chinese broccoli on top of the low low priced (and fat!) kangaroo I buy in the market, for fear that it is not a ‘cool’ meat. Or at least not a meat of the rich and superior, like fancy game or grass fed slow massaged bovine bottom….more in line with the mutton, minced beef, the tough, no-longer-laying chickens of the proletariat. I buy it anyway and I feed it to my guests. In Australia, there are no native ‘hoof’ed animals, some natives tell me over cocktails. So the cows destroy the top soil. Not so with the kangeroos—they are abundant, good for the land and good for the barbeque. Conveniently, farmers hate them. Pass the chutney. Which brings us back to the bunnies. How important is it to eat the right meat in the right way? What is right?

Well, bollocks to that…I have a snare to build.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Space Bunnies Must Die

“I love to use rabbit, particularly very young ones (kittens) because they’re sweet and tender,” says chef Mark Best. “It’s a very versatile beast with marvelous eating qualities. We like to break it into shoulders, the saddle and the legs – each requiring very different cooking methods. The legs braised in hot butter in a nutty crust, slightly rare on the bone.”

In good sporting (not to mention, colonial) fashion, Thomas Austin, a member of the Victorian Acclimatisation Society, released 24 rabbits he had brought from England onto his property near Geelong for sport hunting on Christmas Day, 1859. Oops. Rabbits were introduced to Australia only a few years earlier, in Tasmania. Over the thirty odd years after Christmas 1859 the bunnies went bonkers, spreading quickly into New South Wales, eventually reaching the Northern Territory and Western Australia, several thousand miles away. The rabbit spread across Australia faster than any recorded colonization by a mammal anywhere in history, aided by the previously occupied burrows of now dispersed native species and the rabbit’s symbiosis with European human modifications to the natural environment. Which is to say: rabbits were great at taking over in the bush and did just fine on farm land, too. Not so for most of the native species. “Rabbits are now one of the most widely distributed and abundant mammals in Australia.” Oh the woe a homesick Brit can cause.

Rabbits have fantastic reproductive potential, outdone in the animal kingdom in a contest of sheer sex drive perhaps only by rats (which, if you haven’t read the authoritative book on the topic (Rats, by Robert Sullivan), you’re really missing out [Ed.]). In any case, they do, after all, screw like rabbits. A single pair of rabbits can produce between 30-40 offspring a year. They live both under and on ground, in warrens and tunnels through underbrush. The diseases and parasites common to European and American rabbits are largely absent in Australia. Australia has few predators in general and completely lacks wild mustelids such as ferrets or weasels: the predators who, elsewhere, hunt rabbits where they live (cunning bastards!). Because Australia is virtually predator free, largely disease free, temperate and fertile, there are quite a few very successful invasive species: goats, feral rabbits, feral camels (what?!?), cane toads, feral cats (house), red fox, feral pigs, on and on. The rabbit outdoes them all in population, if not in destruction: though Oz may be good for the bunny, the bunny is baaaaaaaaaaad for the Oz.
“Rabbits are Australia’s most widespread and destructive environmental and agricultural vertebrate pest. Impact on agricultural production is greatest in drier areas where pasture production is low and rabbits can increase to high densities and compete with stock.”

The impact of the alien species: damage to vegetation through ringbarking, grazing, browsing; and the prevention of regeneration of native plants (they eat the seeds), all resulting in detrimental habitat change. Rabbits threaten native mammals (including the Bilby, the rabbit-eared Bandicoot) through competition for food and shelter, and by incubating outbreaks of RHD – Rabbit Haemmorhagic Disease or Calcivirus and Myxomatosis. They also overgraze (little gluttons) causing soil erosion, changes in quality and quantity of flora and fauna, and damage to native vegetation. And so on. My biologist friends shudder, I’m sure. My French Canadian and Sonoma-n chef friends, however…

What to Do? …1080 Poison

Imagine my surprise, the morning after my first encounter with the feral Eurasian rabbit on Australian soil, an encounter that, like all encounters with rabbits makes me think of my dear friend Claire and her hysterical anthropomorphic physical comedy routine whenever running bunnies are sighted (“Oh God! Gotta run fast, gotta, run, ‘cause I’m soooo tasty!”), waking up to a fit of ideas and tiny beady eyes crashing around in my head, when I opened the sad, free newspaper on my doorstep, two cups of gritty French press coffee in (which must be savored no matter how disappointing: we have but a slow hand operated coffee grinder and less than half of a pound of our smuggled, favorite espresso beans left), when I read the news: VICTORIA RABBIT ERADICATION PROGRAM: 1080 PROGRAM BEGINNING MARCH 5. Hello moral validation for an uncertain conscience…. I took my coffee straight to the library.

Australia has been battling the invasive rabbit population for years. They have tried everything to get rid of the little beasties: introduction of diseases, fencing, and something called biological control, whatever that is. One effective longer-term form of rabbit management is destruction of the warren networks. Destruction of rabbit cities can cause havoc, dispersion, and death, effectively reducing the ‘unwanted others’. Like Kanye West’s delightfully spot on assessment of George Bush’s New Orleans policy, perhaps? No, seriously friends…back to the bunnies… This is no problem that can be solved with a mere shoddy levee and a few bumbling public safety appointees: we need WMD. Bollocks to city-smashing, we’ve got the bunny bomb: Poison1080.
1080 is a dynamic poison, effective for controlling all the badies: foxes, pigs, rabbits. It occurs naturally in native pea bushes, so many native species have a tolerance to it. So it’s kind of like the inverse of cholera blankets, right? Gets rid of the outsiders, protects the natives. The vehicle: carrots. (Evil giggle.)If there is a risk of other animals eating it (determined how?) they dye it green (which stops them how?).

And...what about me?
“ 1080 can be highly toxic for humans, but to get sick you would need to:
• eat at least 100g of carrot baits (1080-laced carrots are dyed bright green so they cannot be mistaken for normal carrots), or
• drink over 5000 litres of water, in one sitting, from a waterway directly contaminated by a poison drop, or
• eat at least 37kg of meat, in one sitting, from a sheep that died of 1080 poisoning (the meat from about 2.5 average-sized sheep).” (New Zealand Food Safety Authority.)

Be assured, lest my war-mongering glee convince you otherwise, we do these deeds thoughtfully and with great care to suffering. 1080 has been touted as the most humane available. It is illegal to use jawed traps, to torture, etc, as determined by decades of research and careful consideration. Under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, every state that participates in programs to eradicate non-native feral species must develop committees, under the control of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy, to assess the “relative humanness” of pest control methods.

Uh-oh. RELATIVE. HUMANE. NESS. Here it comes. Well, at least we’re on familiar ground. I have met this ethical conundrum before. Regretfully, I come from a place where the Death Penalty is still used in conjunction with a legal system known to produce false convictions. (No, not Iran, silly!) In any case, Relative Humaneness – humane-ish-ness, I suppose: the approximation of the humane – is the ace up the sleeve in that dirty debate and can get you out of the inevitable bind of participating in backwards, medieval witch hunts gone awry. “Might’ve killed the wrong man, but at least we did it humane-ish-ly.” The glitch lies in the lack of precision with regard to what’s humane-ish, of course, but that’s what racism, deliberate ignorance, and Jeb and George Bush are for, right?

Well, let’s hope not here, at least. What Is Humane is one of the critical questions of my choice. What is suffering? Can we understand the suffering of an animal? Of another human being? Of an event that leaves no first hand account? Aren’t we just animals? Is suffering not an essential aspect of living? Does that get us off the hook? My husband is from a place with wolves and bears and snow. He says that animals kill or are killed every day. Brutally, bloodily, without committees…It’s natural. He also says that the word humane doesn’t pertain. It’s our word: it’s about human consideration of the issue at hand (suffering) and has no bearing on the natural order itself. It’s not even a word for our judgment of the natural order and its suffering, but is limited to the judgment of human participation in that order, specifically, whether that human participation exhibits compassion, benevolence, and mercy, concepts that are regrettably not characteristically human but are nonetheless uniquely human. In addition, we have, at out fingertips, a goody bag of technology: poison, jagged jawed traps, seal bombs, death cones, pellet guns, meat hooks, mouse traps, snares… And in our quest for human-ish-ness, we try to limit the suffering. Yet, as I weigh my options, I find myself wondering: FOR WHOM?

“RABBIT CONTROL [TOWN MEETING]… Throughout the evening, techniques such as warren ripping, bait laying, fumigation and warren destruction…will be demonstrated. [Members of the Rabbit Neighborhood Group encourages attendees]to undertake a six-step programme, which includes: Talking to neighbors to co-ordinate control works, planning your rabbit control programme, assessing the density of rabbis, laying pindone carrot bait, burrowing fumigation and warren destruction. ..”

What responsibilities do we have when we electively cause death? I.E., HOW TO CATCH A BUNNY?

Friday, February 26, 2010


I love food. Real food. For the most part, the conversation in my house is carried by the current of food. Even the eddies and side conversations are still in those central waters. My husband, currently in the process of developing a fish company as a side project, has been sent to Australia for business. As a consequence of our assignment and my attendant leave of absence from my “real” life, I’ve found an intermission—a bizarre pause in my life, surrounded by ghost gums and screeching white cockatoos.

My first discovery: a fascinating lot of new food-- at least--new to me. In less than two weeks, I have been delighted by some of the most exotic and exquisite fare I have ever tasted. Australia, it turns out, like America, is a bit of culinary and cultural patchwork built on a fertile bit of dirt, an agronomist’s dream, and therefore a gourmand’s, with Mediterranean bits at the corners. The quilt is a bit lighter and more colorful than the American version, more Asian and less Hispanic, but however you characterize it there’s all kinds of great food here. With these culinary charms there’s been a second stroke of luck: conversation. Almost immediately, my food conversation has been folded over itself. There have been demands made, inquiries conducted, pillows fluffed, bedrooms ransacked, a challenge issued to my food discourse and eating habit. It’s time for The Politics of Eating.

I’ve been asked a question that isn’t new to me or new to the discourse of eating, a question that pops up from time to time in my twenty-something, health-conscious, fad-acknowledging-if-not-following eating life: Do I eat meat? Why of course. In all shapes and sizes, dear.

But then came the second question. Here in this new place, in a new conversation with new friends and food lovers, it slammed right into me despite my clear right of way and solid preparation derived from the Michael Pollen books on tape we listen to while driving: WHY?

Though I ponder it from time to time, most recently on a drive up the 5 through California’s Central Valley as the dusty manure and cow piles that pass for modern US cattle ranches flashed by the window, in the soupy spaghetti of my daily musings the issue of meat is peripheral at best. Let me be clear, I am quite passionate in my distaste of factory farming, mass produced meat, and all of the other disgusting practices our backwards generation tolerates if not outright demands in the name of cheap eats and convenience. But I am not interested in that—I have clear values, positions, views on that—or do I?

My privileged place in the universe affords me the luxury to choose what I eat. Ultimately, it is a choice. I like meat, I choose to eat it, I buy lamb rump steaks and my husband makes his own sauce from mint that grows wild under our apple tree. We are quite charming.

In making my choice I’ve too often, conveniently, left out a big part of the ground work. What are the constraints that bound that choice? What responsibilities come with the privilege of my freedom? What values, universal or cultural, define the choice and how do I defend it on those terms? Over time, we have developed a dirty little demand for the luxury of choice – no question. My husband tells me that the US is one of the only places in the world where food is a normal good – this is economic gobbledygook for a thing we don’t buy less of when the price rises. In other words, the rest of the world changes how much they eat when they have less money, while we do not. Why should we? Calories are cheap, after all. Like a child stomping its foot in the candy aisle of the grocery store, we expect abundance and access. The resulting indiscretions abound. We pacify ourselves on the topics of GMO, subsidies for chemical companies that make toxic stuff to spray on our food, and filthy slaughterhouses with belief that we lead a crusade for affordable ‘food for all.’ Through the tiny opening of that justification, through that pinprick of a white lie, the corporate meat industry has wiggled, stretched, barged its way into an ethos that over time burgeoned into something utterly reprehensible, wickedly destructive, and above all, damned. Factory farmed meat: science experiment limbless chickens, ammonia soaked pork, and E. coli infested frozen mystery meat burgers. Sick, nasty.

And the vegetarian at my dinner table looks at me with big, innocent eyes: This is the way of living/eating I CHOOSE? No. I don’t think so. Isn’t killing evil? Yes, that’s what I’ve been taught. So where do I fall in all of this? I carefully choose which face wash to use and what recycled toilet paper to buy…why haven’t I considered something so serious as death, blood, destruction, cruelty on my dinner table?

My vegetarian friend

Raised by an avid vegan mother who skipped preaching and went straight to the propaganda, my friend is well versed in the political and spiritual underpinnings of her diet. Her thoughts and words are clear, articulate, and passionate. She had strong points, good points, and above all, good-person points, the moral high ground. Her three year old son is a blonde buoyant placard of good, whole-grain energy. Our conversations were difficult for me. Where do I fit in? How do I justify myself? Should I? Must I?

My dietary choices, as far as I could tell as I scrambled to take inventory, was based on mostly selfish motives—no corn syrup, organics, less sugar, more olive oil—these were the things of health and vanity, not politics. Is eating a political decision? I teetered carefully and respectfully at the edges of the conversation. We could talk about fish—she eats fish, though she feels tremendous guilt for it. I easily address and console the guilt. We move on. Killing can be suffering, suffering is unimaginable bad wrong. I wade in two steps—but killing is natural? Maybe…We both politely take a step back to our corners and swish water…And how does it impact the whole? Ethics, morals, our relation to ourselves and our social world? How does this choice fit in with who we want to be—how we conduct our affairs and direct ourselves into the future? She sits facing me, a perfectly successful, capable, considerate, thoughtful being. I envy her clarity, her deliberation.

She told me a story. She has a friend who went to Japan after a tumultuous year of replacing a career as a corporate attorney with one in the entertainment industry due to a crisis of conscience over her own impact on ‘the environment’. This friend, let’s call her Fred, described it in this fashion: She couldn’t take the environmental meaninglessness, if not destructiveness, of her legal calling, what with representing BIG business, and followed her conscience to a career trading carbon offsets for raves and other events. A few months after the switch, Fred found herself in Tokyo with a new boyfriend and a new life, going to all the swanky Japanese bars, exclusive clubs, shops, hotels. She tried exotic foods, including horse and whale, in exquisitely adorned, private-roomed restaurants. Fred even took a shot of sake with a live goldfish in it. At this point in the conversation, my friend is visibly shaken. Not over the goldfish. That’s not where I’m going. Well, over the goldfish, but in the tiniest sense. The way my friend explained it: Fred’s hypocritical approach to a philosophy (environmentalism) my friend shared devastated her. Whale? Live animals? Seems a bit odd after exchanging the Prada for the Pine. Was she a bad friend for even thinking her accusation of hypocrisy? Fred needed, deserved to cut loose. Don’t we all have at least a small allotment of forgivable indiscretions and inconsistencies? We are human, after all…

It struck a similarly piqued chord for me, and relayed a story in turn. I recently went on a trip to Argentina. It was the worst timing for all involved, immediately before the move with my husband to Australia, at a low point in our family finances, with a group of friends who also couldn’t really afford the time away but couldn’t, all good sense aside, miss the chance to go somewhere wonderful together. Good friends, in other words. We were professionals, scientists, artists, and devoted ‘environmentalists’, some with impressive conversationalist pedigrees. We had grandiose intentions of trekking in Patagonia, losing ourselves in the space of the unknown, catching dinner (non-native trout) to cook over open fires (carefully buried afterwards), sleeping in the cool darkness of a wild place. And we did a lot of that. But the Argentines are not as dismissive of the riches of their terroir as we had expected. To our utter (surprising) disappointment, time after time, after hours of driving, hiking, hauling, breaking unmarked trail, we would round a bend in dense cane to find plenty of others already there. Fishing, camping, eating, cooking, laughing. Where was our wild? Our space? Our privacy?

Driving back to hot showers and parillas of wild boar and chimichurri, our disappointment was embarrassing on two fronts: One, we felt like amateurs, incapable of even locating the true wild, whatever that may be; and two, of more interest to me, that we were further incapable of accepting the human (other humans) use of ‘the environment’, which is what we set out to do in the fist place. We were, if only quietly in our own minds, hypocrites. Isn’t the goal of our recycled burgundy bottles and reduced evening bath water just that: to preserve a place for all to use? Or for none? Which is it? We noticed, concealing our dirty, envious thoughts from each other, that many of the other extranjeros who had been similarly disappointed but who had the resources (which go a fair bit farther in a country rife with a combination of constant financial catastrophe and systematic subordination of the rural poor by centuries of successful oligarchs) had satisfied this desire for their own wild: Estancias. Gorgeous, expansive ranches comprising some of the most pristine land in the world, each neatly enclosed in fence and lock to assure rightful priority over prying native or envious traveler.

It’s easy, as an envious and educated outsider, to judge the estancia owners, to ask them, rhetorically: How do you set your priorities, publicly and privately, with regard to the environment, and not acknowledge, in the slightest, the implications for the whole? But it might be more honest to acknowledge the difficulty of these choices and to ask instead: How do you make choices about protecting a big block of land without being either too exclusive or too lenient? How do you engage other people, whose laws and civil institutions and goodwill (at times born from the powerlessness of poverty) ultimately enable your choices about that land (whether your choices are for the sake of all or the sake of one) while simultaneously protecting it from the tragedy of the commons? It’s easy to deflect the criticism of the bourgeois vegetarian, who can afford organic veggies and great nutrition, by asking: How do you define your nutritional choices with politics but then ignore or condemn others for their lack of a choice? What use are ideas like environmentalism, vegetarianism, sustainability, or whatever else, if ultimately, they are only indulgences for the privileged?

And on a personal level: where do we demand consistency of ourselves and others? Does eating a live goldfish mesh with swapping trees for rides on private jets? How does an altruistic preservation scheme fit in with gated communities designed for outright disenfranchisement of the indigenous? Well, shit, quite swimmingly in realm of the absurd… Back to the beginning…


The blog

I have absolutely no intention of answering any of the above questions. I just want to go looking for my own coherence (a self-serving endeavor, for sure) beginning with FOOD, specifically, MEAT. Stated premise (ha): Before I can understand the ramifications of my decision and its place in the world of life, beings, matter, atoms, I need to actually MAKE the decision. For have I really decided anything? Isn’t that the entire point of conveniently wrapped, inoffensively colored pre-cut and pre-cleaned rounds of my supermarket meat – to protect me from choice? Of course, I thoughtfully search for the buried packages with the green fluorescent Organic sticker…sometimes…
The point is, right now, I have a few other luxuries: time and copper wire. So really, why not kill, eat, and blog?

It’s a simple ambition –explore my extravagance. Pleased to meat you: I am a dissatisfied, stay-at-home expat with a desire for the perspective of wild blood? No, worse: a yearning to bank an ‘authentic experience’ to draw on the next time I am in a high end boutique cafĂ© arguing over food? Damn. How about a desire to chase the absurd: a tangible, first hand understanding of a simple decision I make every day and take for granted: meat.

So…How? The answer came in the form of fifty pairs of tiny beads that flashed in the headlights on our way home from a dinner party. They scattered into the darkness as we rounded the corner, fleeing the flat open grass back to the cover of their coastal bush. I roll down the window. In the darkness, between the crashing waves and high pitched night sounds, I hear the patter of floppy hops. Two days later, an article in the paper describes the local council’s ongoing (and losing) battle with the invasive European rabbit ‘PROBLEM’.

This is my tiny, experimental exploration into a twenty first century privilege of choosing how, when, what, and why to eat. Maybe the beginning of an ideological autopoesis? Probably not. More like a search for scaffolding. As a point of information: I have no experience in any of this. I do not even kill my own spiders. I tried the trout thing – by which I mean catching, killing, and grilling an eight inch, finely speckled specimen of Salmo gairdnerii, a Rainbow Trout (invasive), in Argentina, but only while fortified by a wild herb and Pisco concoction whipped up by an ingenious (and terribly good looking) friend and guided by two experienced hunters standing over me for support. I do not arrange and roast my own chickens. I do raise them, but only to eat their eggs, and only after said eggs have been conveniently arranged in the coop like in the cartoons—I had no idea for months and still pretend that it isn’t the case that my husband first collects them from under the avocado tree, behind the front stoop, next to the hose…

I will make a snare, set it, catch a rabbit, kill the rabbit, skin the rabbit, clean the rabbit, cook the rabbit, EAT THE RABBIT. Or not – my husband likes to remind me of the insecurity of the hunter-gatherer’s food supply with a smirk. Through this endeavor, maybe I will better define the ethical/moral/political boundaries of one of the many complicated choices we face as 21st century humans. Or not. We’ll see…