Food Cuisine

“Squirrel Preparation”

Phyllis Gilbert is a resident of the small town of Thomaston, Georgia. She is a second-generation British-American. She grew up in the smaller town of Yatesville, Georgia where she first learned how to cook and prepare squirrel.

Every first Sunday of the month, Phyllis prepares squirrel for her family to eat. Her son and daughter-in-law along with their three sons always come to her house at this time to participate in the activity. First, the younger children will take the traditional bow and arrows that have been in the house for over one- hundred years and hunt for the squirrel, which will be cooked. Once the children return with a sufficient amount of squirrel, Phyllis will skin the squirrel completely and remove the parts, which are desirable for consumption. Only the legs and the pectoral muscle area are chosen for cooking and consumption.  The squirrel is cooked in a similar fashion to the way in which chicken is often fried. It is prepared in a frying pan and is often served with a variety of sauces including gravy. The tradition of cooking squirrel on the first Sunday of each month is an incorporation of family gathering, children’s hunting, and cooking.

Phyllis says that her family practiced this tradition from the time she was a little girl (now she is 82 years old). The method for squirrel preparation that she uses was taught to her by her grandmother. She says that this family tradition is very important because it is a way of holding onto the practices of the older generations of the family in a present time wherein cultural traditions are dying out.

The practice of keeping this tradition wherein squirrel is hunted and then prepared on the first Sunday of each month seems to be an important way in which the family keeps tradition and heritage. It is interesting that many of the people who consume this item, being that they are from my family have told me that they strongly dislike the taste of squirrel yet continue to eat it for tradition’s sake. This clearly shows that sometimes traditions and cultural practices are continued regardless of their lack of functionality in the present times and even their at times unpleasant nature. The value of cultural tradition is often placed higher than the cost one must pay to keep tradition alive.