With the Ossans!1
Whimsy Additional Chapter
Today, I have a drinking party with father-in-law’s friends. Father-in-law was looking forward to it very much, preparing special smoked meat and alcohol. As for me, I pickled fish I caught from the nearby river. This was the one that Sieg said went best with alcohol.
The location of the feast is the tool shed at the ranch. To not get caught by mother-in-law or a brother-in-law’s wife, we proceeded quietly. However, since we will be cooking, we left a window open.
There were about three ranch owners gathered here. They were all around father-in-law’s age. The men in this area are usually stoic, but these ossans had really cheerful temperaments that one might suspect that were already very drunk.
The table was full with dishes and ingredients that people brought over.
Sausages, ham, beer, fruit wine, roasted nuts and dried fish. Everything looked nice.
Amongst that, one guy who had a large leather bag laid it down proudly.
“Look at this, I just caught them a while ago.”
From the bag, a small beast I never saw before came out. It looked a little similar to a wolverine.
“What might this be?”
“Ou, these are badgers (Dachs). They ruin our fields, so we hunt them already in early spring.”
Indeed, the two badgers, despite having just finished hibernating, had plump bodies and shining fur.
“These are delicious.”
Ooh, that really piques my interest.
It seemed like they were going to butcher it, so when I said I was going to do it outside, they became surprised. They were even more surprised when father-in-law said, “my son-in-law is from a hunting people.”
“You’re that thin, but you’re quite tough. Amazing.”
I waved my hand that it was not not the case while smiling thinly, and left the shed.
I felt disappointed at my thin arms.
The people here were tall, and maybe because it was easier for them to gain muscles, they had stocky builds as well. On the other hand, I wasn’t that tall, nor did I have muscles. If I have a muscular body like those ossans, I wonder if Sieg will say, “What a dependable man! Splendid! Hug me!” While getting delusional about such a pointless thing, I walked over to the slaughterhouse.
To butcher the badgers, I skewered their legs together and hung them. It seemed the blood was already removed properly. It would be an easy job.
First, I placed a bowl under the badgers and started skinning them from their feet.
Badger skin was tougher than I expected. If I didn’t put enough strength into it, the knife did not go through. Maybe because it was eating nice things, the fur was fluffy. It might be good for making into a nice hat with a tail decoration. To process them later, I laid them out and left them in a cool and dark place.
The exposed badger meat were covered in plenty of fat. The red bit peeking out had a pink shade. It didn’t smell.
I cut off the toes and cut their bellies open. When I took out the organs, some were still warm. Seems like they are creatures with high body temperature. I then butchered them by parts and placed them on a platter.
After all the work was done, I washed my hands and picked some herbs in the area as I returned to the feast.
“Ritzhard-kun, thank you.”
“No, I’m used to it.”
While the room was being filled with smoke, various ingredients were being cooked on a gridiron.
“Ooh, you did it neatly.”
The person who caught the badgers happily received the meat and the herbs I picked. He applied the herbs on the meat and plopped some on the gridiron in a very lively manner.
Juwa~ The grilling meat made such a sound. The badger meat did not have the exotic smell of wild game.
From the meat, the fat dripped from the meat and an aromatic fragrance rode the wind. Once the meat was cooked well, it was finished by dashing on a bit of salt.
“Here, have a taste.”
I politely received the dish with the grilled meat.
Since the meat was not matured yet and stiff, the meat was a little tough. However, it had a nice chewing texture, that it was pretty good. Biting into it filled the mouth with the flavour of the meat, and then the nose was filled with the wild flavour of the beast. The crisply grilled meat went well with beer. The fat was sweet, and it was not sticky. It was a very delicious meat.
“It tastes the best when made into soup.”
If I hear that, I can’t help but make it. I got the recipe and promptly stood up to go out and make badger soup.
At father-in-law’s ranch, there is a small kitchen so that one can snack whenever. There are also simple ingredients and vegetables stored.
First, the badger ribs were used to get the soup. Since the fat was also a major source of the flavour, those were added in as well. Once it started boiling, I added herbs and vegetables to remove the flavour. I removed the scum druing the cooking process. Once the murky soup became clear, I used a sieve to filter all the content in the pot.
In the clear soup, I added in diced badger meat, as well as root vegetables and mushrooms.
Scum started rising again, so I worked hard to remove them. Finally, the badger soup is completed by adding spices. I decided to take the whole pot to share with everyone.
“This is amazing stuff!”
It seemed that the badger soup was new for father-in-law as well, since his eyes went wide open.
The clear soup had a deep flavour, and the vegetables had that soaked in them, pleasing the taste buds with rich flavour. I had put in so much fat, yet it was not sticky. It was refreshing.
It seems that badgers did not smell because they are not omnivorous, eating honey, fruits and berries. Since they are tastier than the frequently appearing boars, there are many hunters aiming for them.
The two badgers disappeared quickly. I thought that they would be tastier if they are aged, but they are rare so I gave up.
We continued to feast on sausages and ham, and drank. The place became lively with various topics.
Amongst the topic, the ossans’ showed the most interest in my life in the remote land.
Winter hunting and making preserved food for the polar nights. Gathering the blessings of the forest in spring, the white nights of summer, and the berry picking war of the ladies. When I said that we make whatever we need, they were surprised.
“You even make alcohol.”
“Yes. Buying might be cheaper, but we have time to make them.”
It’s an age old habit to make what we can even if it’s a hassle. We buy the least possible from the merchants. That thought was growing out among the younger generations, but I personally think that the skills to make things are useful.
“Haah, whatta surprise!”
Hearing my story about alcohol, the ossans were surprised. They also seem to make alcohol as a hobby. However, they said that it’s just buying ingredients from the liquor shop.
“The aprikose drink we made last year were great.”
Made from dried apricots, apparently. It seems that dried fruits make the drink sweeter and deepen the flavour.
Other than that, they also make medicinal alcohol from herbs for their health.
“Those ain’t alcohol. They’re medicine.”
“Course they are.”
Herbs and nuts, they use many things. I learned a lot.
“In my village, we usually have berry liqueur. Sometimes we make alcohol out of fruits merchants sell.”
“Hoh, here berry liqueur has a higher grade.”
Back home, I was taught to use only fresh berries to make alcohol, so I never thought of using dried fruits or herbs for alcohol.
“Sounds great. I want to try making them. I think that alcohol is best when handmade.”
When I murmured that, father-in-law proposed something.
“Ritzhard-kun, why don’t I make various kinds of alcohol and send them over later?”
He also told me to not worry about the shipping fees while patting my shoulder.
“Then, I’d like to shop for ingredients at the market with Sieg.”
It’s Sieg who drinks more. If there’s something she prefers, I’d make alcohol out of those.
In this way, the curtains fell on the feast with the ossans as the party heated up to the climax.
The badger meat I had for the first time were delicious and I learned many things, so the drinking party was worthwhile.
I think the tanuki (raccoon dog) soup in Japanese folktales are made from badgers. (Tanuki meat smell too much.)
1 ‘ossan’ means middle-aged man in Japanese.