West Virginia’s Roadkill Festival is in full swing, allowing chefs to prepare their favorite recipes and battle it out to see who prepares the best roadkill cuisine.
The Roadkill Cook-Off took place in Marlinton, West Virginia, where exotic animals and common roadside delicacies, alike, were the main focus of the chefs in attendance.
Many attendees stood in line for up to 40 minutes, according to the Herald Dispatch, just to try uncommon delicacies such as iguana and quail meatballs. To the surprise of many in attendance, including Rick Fox, the atmosphere was laid back and welcoming and the dishes tasted fantastic.
“People ask do you want to try this and I always say yes,. I love to taste everything, and there’s not been anything I have tried that I didn’t like.”
Although many individuals find the thought of eating a dead animal off of the side of the road to be disgusting and unsanitary, it has become a necessity in some communities due to devastatingly poor economies, forcing residents to go back to their roots to place food on the table. However, most are quick to serve up dishes that are freshly killed, often by their own vehicles, and ensure it is legal to collect the animal for a meal.
The BBC was so intrigued by the festival that they sent a reporter to West Virginia to check it out. According to the BBC, correspondent Charlie Northcott was surprised at the selection of roadkill that graced the festival menu.
“One America’s strangest events each year: The Roadkill Cooking Festival. Black bear, possum, elk and even reptiles are on the menu.”
During the Roadkill Cook-off, chefs create their favorite recipes using animals they found on the side of the road. During the judging, common elements, such as flavor and ingredient combinations, are judged, as well as whether there are bits of gravel in the final product. The type of animal served is often kept secret until after the judging to ensure there is no potential for marking off points based on the type of animal used.
Attendees to the festival pay $5 to enter and are allowed unlimited sampling to all of the meals being served inside. Popular recipes at this year’s festival included quail and iguana.
Ben Wilfong, the event organizer, claims that the event brings in a huge income, despite the revolting nature of the dishes.
“The festival is a tremendous income for the whole county. People here grow up with families who don’t have a lot. But ask someone from Marlinton for the shirt off their back and they’ll give it you.”
Although the event uses real roadkill and exotic animals to create the dishes, festival veteran Ed Blackford says it is all in good fun.
“The whole thing is tongue and cheek. It’s a stab at what other Americans think of us West Virginians. They call us rednecks, but that can be a compliment down here. This is about having fun. It’s about economic rejuvenation.”
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) November 9, 2015
Roadkill festivals have popped up all over the country, including states such as Vermont. Eating a dead animal that a person just hit with a car is not necessarily taboo anymore, as the meat is fresh and the delicacy is better left to be placed on the table, rather than left on the road to rot. Or worse, the roadkill could invite other carnivorous animals to feast upon it, resulting in their death at the wheels of an oncoming car.
Would you sample the dishes from a roadkill cook-off?
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