In Praise of Normal


Words by William Sitwell

Since the first edition of Talking Game came out in 2018 there seems to have been an explosion of organisations and publications extolling the virtues of eating this wonderful array of protein. New pubs have opened putting game front and centre of the menu and venture capitalists are looking at businesses aiming to get more game onto the shelves of supermarkets.

This is all very good news, as the more ‘normal’ game is perceived, the less squeamish consumers will be about eating it. Of course there is pleasure in participating in field sports – in connecting with a high bird, in shooting a stag after a long stalk and a long pause in the heather as you wait for a beast to stand in the right direction. And I respect and understand the views of those who oppose the many and various activities of game shooting or fishing, as long as their virtue extends to everything they eat. I have less sympathy for vocal opponents who are more than happy to consume fast food made with poultry that has had a far less natural existence prior to their arrival at a processing plant. So if we’re comfortable that what we’re eating isn’t morally unacceptable, the starting and finishing point should surely be practicality and pleasure. But there can be little defence of game shooting if what is killed isn’t eaten. And all of us who do shoot should also talk up the merits of consuming it. We should encourage children and adults alike to try the pheasant rather than the chicken, the venison over the beef.

Well hung, well-cooked game makes a wonderful, memorable choice. If you know anyone who has doubts then let them see and taste what Mike Robinson is doing at his new restaurant in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Woodsman menu includes fallow deer T-bone and muntjac chops. And they’ll convert even the most doubtful.

But closer to home and in your own kitchen, this edition of Talking Game has some jaw-dropping recipes such as Kentucky Fried Pheasant, BBQ grouse and tandoori partridge. But you can’t go wrong with the classics either, from traditional roast grouse to breast of mallard.

The more we eat game, the more we encourage others to do so and the more we badger our local supermarkets, restaurants and pubs to stock it, the more normal it will become. Normal, natural, lean and healthy.

Shoot straight and bon appetit!