Health Editor’s Note: Where we lived in Ohio, we used to have many, many raccoons that would visit in the evening, perhaps even to eat the left over turkey carcasses. It all started when we moved in and inherited three feral cats which we trapped and spayed and released. We fed those girls and of course having food outside the house, on a very regular basis, would begin to attract raccoons. We did not know the raccoons were there but they soon made themselves known. One female raccoon always had six youngsters. The bandits never made a mess, bothered the cats, or explored the garbage can on the one night it would go out. As you can imagine, I could never eat a raccoon, or for that matter a turkey that I had a relationship with…..Carol
Raccoon Was Once a Thanksgiving Feast Fit for a President
by Jason Daley/Smithsonian.com
Turkey, ham, and even a bit of venison or elk would pass muster on most modern Thanksgiving tables. But a century ago, many diners would have been just as happy to see some raccoon sitting next to the gravy boat.
As Luke Fater reports for Atlas Obscura, Native Americans and early American settlers relied on small game like raccoon and squirrels to supplement their diets. In the American South especially, raccoons were an important staple for enslaved individuals.
“After they’d finish their workday, they were permitted to hunt in the middle of the night to get some extra protein in their diet,” Hank Shaw, author of Hunt, Gather, Cook, tells Fater.
Archaeological digs show that enslaved people even stewed whole raccoons in a manner similar to a West African cooking technique.