I remember, about ten years back, getting a phone call at work from our son, Jakob, who was sixteen years old at the time.
“Mum, how do you pluck a goose?”
“Er, why do you need to know that right now Jakob?”, I ask.
“Well Zed and I just caught a magpie goose, we’ve killed it and Zed doesn’t know how to pluck it because he would usually just chuck it on an open fire, no need to pluck.”
Zed was an Aboriginal youth, also sixteen, who was staying with us for a while. He lived in a remote Aboriginal community in Arnhem Land. A young man experienced in hunting food although in this day and age he did not do too much of that. I have to say at this point I was relieved they didn’t start an open fire in our garden while Johann and I were at work. I explained the process of plucking poultry.
When I arrived home from work they proudly showed off their plucked goose.
“How on earth did you catch it?”
The goose was found wandering around the garden and they caught it by hand. ‘Zed’ held the goose while Jakob went to the shed to get an axe. Zed could not kill it because,
“I don’t want blood splattered on my new Nikes Jakob, and you will have to chop its head off.”
This is Jakob’s first lesson in hunting and gathering… up to this point he was learning a few skills but lesson number one: if you go hunting and gathering don’t wear new ‘white’ Nikes!
Zed held the goose and its head rested on a piece of wood and Jakob lopped it off, but giggle fodder afoot. Blood did splatter onto Zed’s new white Nikes and the poor deceased goose was left lying there while they rushed off to clean the shoes.
At this point Zed decided it was high time to get back to his roots and got rid of the shoes. A barefoot hunter in action. He showed Jakob how to gut the animal prior to plucking.
By the time I arrived home, not a feather or piece of down in sight, I was impressed. Both lads were in the kitchen cooking up a storm, a treat for dinner. Curried Magpie Goose. Mmmmm yum.
They served the goose on a bed of rice. Their cunning hunting skills took on a new light as we were eating their goose. I think the goose was extremely old, suffering from dementia most likely, and had dropped its Zimmer frame mid-flight. If the boys had served my husband’s old leather work boots we would not have known. (missing feathers? Mmm)
Of course we said nothing because they were so proud about the fact they caught the goose, killed the goose, plucked and gutted the goose and cooked a meal especially for us. We gave glorious praise for their efforts.
Perhaps this experience shaped Jakob’s thinking about food.
RIP Zed, our son and brother 17/9/2008.