Wednesday 27 May 2020

Promote The Goat!

The Crete Nature Blog doesn’t often concern itself with domestic livestock but this week I fancy writing about something different to flowers, fish and froghoppers. Sitting here, listening to the Rolling Stones’ Goats Head Soup album reminds me of the one and only time I have tasted this particular delicacy. Christina and I were in a restaurant in Sitia, in the north east of Crete, with friends Yvonne and Alan, when we all spotted it on the menu of the small and very ethnic restaurant into which we’d descended. In the interests of culinary research, I decided to give it a go, (the others, cowards all, declined). It arrived, looking not unlike the album cover sans skin and horns, in a pale grey liquid, in which were floating the occasional limp slices of onion (or possibly hoof shavings). We all eyed the goat, dubiously. The goat eyed me, accusingly. The soup was disappointingly bland, tasting as if it had been boiled to death in yesterday’s dish water (which it quite possibly had been). Luckily, it did not put me off goat for life and so, as goat does not appear on the menu much in more northerly latitudes, I’m going to do my bit to promote the goat.

So, let’s start with a few goaty facts:

  • Goats have been domesticated for over 10,000 years and are descended from the Bezoar Ibex, Capra aegagrus aegagrus.

  • The Cretan Ibex, or Kri-kri, Capra aegagrus cretica, (once thought to be Europe’s last remaining wild goat) is a feral descendant of domesticated goats brought to Crete in the Minoan period.
  • Goats are intelligent animals, and will look to a human for assistance in task solving, much as a dog will.
  • Goats are prodigious climbers and often startle the unwary by gazing down at them from the topmost branches of a tree, apparently defying the laws of physics.
  • The male and female goat are called the Buck and Doe, or more familiarly, Billy and Nanny. Their offspring are called kids (as opposed to human offspring which are called children).

OK, so that last comment is a particular bĂȘte noire  of mine. When asked if I have kids, I invariably reply that I have no room outside to house them, nor do I generate sufficient kitchen scraps to feed them. (I have probably lost quite a few potential friends as a result).

Time for a bit of  Fieldcraft & Foraging. The experience with the goat’s head soup didn’t put me off, and I fancy a goat rib casserole tonight. For which we will need nothing more than a carrot, an onion, a bit of salt & pepper and two large sprigs of Rosemary. There are some things, like Rosemary, which are good to forage, and some things, like onions and carrots, which are not. Wild onions look like many other bulbous plants, some of which are extremely poisonous, and wild carrots look like many other umbilifers, some of which are also poisonous. Even if you do finish up with the correct bulb and root, you will find that they are somewhat scrawny, and come to realise that our forebears haven’t spent the preceding millennia improving them just for the fun of it.

Having got the ingredients together, it’s just a question of cooking them and you can find the recipe in Steve’s Wild Kitchen. You could do the same with lamb chops but here are a few good reasons why you should go for the goat (particularly if you have a heart condition or you are trying to lose a few of those lockdown pounds).

  • Goat has about half the calories of lamb
  • Goat has about one tenth as much saturated fat
  • Goat has about 20% less cholesterol
  • Goat contains over double the amount of iron

Slow cooked in a casserole, the meat falls off the bone, is extremely tender, and tastes every bit as good as lamb.

That’s about it for now. I’m one week nearer to moving to Cumbria and using the time to re-decorate the master bedroom and working on the sequel to my first full length novel, The MONOM (The Magic of Nature of Magic) which, all being well, will be published in the autumn. Just a final plea to my regular butcher in Cockermouth, W. Lindsay & Sons,If you haven’t already done so: Get In The Goat!

See sample pages of all my books and keep abreast of latest publications here:

All you need to know to identify any type of insect, spider, worm or snail very simply and find out more about it.
Yvonne: This was a gift for a family so that the children can understand what they see on days out. The second was for me. Logical and easy to use. If you know anyone who likes nature you can be confident that gifting this book will give years of pleasure.

The Eggs of Saramova
A science fiction novella for those who don't like science fiction. A fast-paced thriller that is, literally, out of this world (and it starts right here in Crete).
Too new for reviews yet!

A light-hearted look at life through the eyes of the fairer sex.
Janet: If you are short on time but enjoy reading and are maybe not into long extended novels then Not Just For... Twisted Women provides readers with concise stories that stand alone and most certainly entertain with their ultimate twists. Loved it.
Helen: A very good read! Well written and entertaining!
Margaret: Each quick tale gives a glimpse into a character's life and has an often humorous twist at the end. I would love to read more.
Yvonne: These days many people find it hard to find the time to read a novel, so this book of short stories is ideal to dip into. It is also makes a good gift.

Crete Nature Catch-up
Share your nature thoughts, photos and comments on Naturalists (the facebook page that accompanies this blog)

Explore the region with the #CreteNature interactive Hiking and Nature Map

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