Monday, May 08, 2006


How wild d'you like your boar, Sir?

I've just booked a table at one of my favourite restaurants, Chez Léon, in the little village of Catteri in the Balagne area of north west Corsica. And unless I have a complete personality change between now and the weekend I will be ordering the wild boar.

It sounds quite a daunting dish, but in reality sanglier has a delicate flavour, an interesting texture - and it tastes nothing like pork. I expect it's the diet they eat scrubbing round in the maquis (perhaps the chestnuts) that makes it so different. The way I like it is cooked very slowly, as a casserole, with lots of herbs.

There are loads of these animals running about in Corsica's mountains, and I have never been aware of a shortage of them. Go round any country roads here and you see the heads and skins draped over farmers' fences, probably marking the site of a recent hunt. Pictures of hunts adorn the walls of many homes, bars and cafes, portraying the marksman smiling proudly next to the slaughtered beast. And I have seen them occasionally running wild in the scrub.

So how on earth did we Brits manage to drive them into extinction in our country in the Middle Ages? I would have thought that with the weapons used for the purpose now, Corsica would be in severe danger of running out of them too, but no, the supply seems to be replenished constantly by their amazing reproductive capacity.

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