Americans don’t really eat squirrel anymore, and there’s now a stigma of poverty attached to the idea, but as late as 1967, a cookbook claimed 25 million pounds of squirrel were eaten in this country. This long and interesting history of squirrel eating in America includes a section of cooking squirrel stew for the writer’s friends.
I asked Knoblitt why Mellencamp cut off the heads when he was skinning them. Doesn’t anybody eat them? “It tastes like every nut in the forest. It’s full of flavor,” he affirmed, but lots of folks stopped eating them for fear of mad squirrel disease. He then looked me straight in the eye and his face abruptly twitched and froze in a contorted rictus. I looked around uncomfortably and felt relieved when he started laughing.
I was thinking about how lobster used to be a low food, eaten only by those too poor to buy better food. I can totally see squirrel showing up on the most adventurous restaurants, first as a delicacy only available from one or two of the most daring chefs, and then sweeping entire cities as restaurant trends tend to do.