To a dead billy goat I owe an apology. On Friday the animal met his end via a bullet fired by New Plymouth's Alex Wolf who had taken me hunting in Tarata.
"Those are good," he said, pointing to its testicles while we were cutting off its hind quarters.
Not one to shy away from a culinary challenge and feeling it disrespectful to kill an animal and not eat as much of it as I could, I cut them off and put them in my bag.
"Sorry mate," I said.
"Yeah sorry mate," Wolf said.
The next day I had my first chance to actually cook some of the things I had collected and/or killed as part of my 12-day living off the land challenge and so I set about banging and crashing in my kitchen.
After a spectacularly delicious lunch of seared albacore tuna I had caught just a few kilometres off Port Taranaki, I decided to have a go at cooking the goat balls.
I searched the internet for simple recipes and came across one that called for them to be boiled for an hour before slicing and coating in bread crumbs. It seemed easy so I made a start.
It is relevant to note at this point that a billy goat is one of Earth's most odorous creatures.
Like many male animals it urinates on itself to prove its virility and presence to other males.
This urine stink is Chanel No 5 to nanny goats but causes most humans to dry wretch, which is how nature intended it so as to prevent awkward inter-species mix-ups.
I assumed the hour's boiling would shrink this stench just as it shrunk the organs and it certainly seemed that way when I cut them into slices. They did not smell a bit.
So I cooked them along with a section of billy goat back steak and a piece of its liver. I also prepared a salad with vegetables from my garden and downloaded a movie to watch. It was shaping up to be a restful night, which is exactly what I needed after five long days hunting and gathering.
My first mouthful was the back steak, which I had rolled in coriander and garlic after frying. It was exceptionally good. Next I loaded my fork with some of the liver that I had crumbed along with the balls. That too was delicious. Then it was time for the testicles.
I sliced one round in half, dabbed it in some homemade garlic mayonnaise and shoved it in my mouth.
My first chew was cautious, the second more confident, the third quite comfortable.
It was only on the fourth bite down that my tastebuds realised they had been assaulted.
"What have you done," they screamed with a dying gasp.
"You've killed us all," my oesophagus wheezed.
"Stuff this. I'm not going down this way," my wizened stomach said, coolly ejecting the gristly, stinking lump back from where it came.
Unfortunately this quick exit was too late.
The damage was done and the disgusting stench remained, ingrained into the membrane of my mouth, imbedded in the lining of my throat.
So my first real dinner in five days ended less than a minute after it began.
Despite having a battle-hardened stomach of some resilience I simply could not face my plate any more. Billy's presence was too strong.
So to Billy I must say sorry for taking your pride and then choking on it. I guess I deserved it. There are some indignities one male should never practise on another.
Today: Deer stalking with Phil Mohi.
Tomorrow: Plums, blackberries and eels in Ahititi.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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