The boss of a national wildlife charity has emerged as an unlikely champion of roadkill cuisine.
Miranda Krestovnikoff, the new president of the RSPB, the national bird charity, has revealed that she regularly eats wild animals that have been hit by vehicles. She got a taste for bashed badger and flattened fox after spotting a freshly killed pheasant on a road near her home in Bristol. She stopped to pick it up and took it home to eat.
Nowadays, on the off chance that she’ll see another dead pheasant or something larger such as a deer, she keeps a tarpaulin in her boot to wrap up and drag the carcass to her car. It is legal to eat roadkill as long as the animal has been accidentally run over and the meat is not sold.
But far from being embarrassed or squeamish about her taste for roadkill, Krestovnikoff is keen to promote the benefits of eating freshly mown-down wildlife to other motorists.
“People have a problem with it because the meat has not come from a cellophane wrapper,” she said. “The meat is lean, healthy, organic, free, guilt-free and as fresh as fresh can be. We need to know what we’re eating and where it is coming from, and this allows you to do that.”
Krestovnikoff avoids carcasses that have been flattened or been left at the roadside for too long. She also steers clear of dead rabbits showing signs of the disease myxomatosis. Otherwise, she is adamant that roadkill is safe to eat.
On that point, the Food Standards Agency disagrees. It says the animal may not have been healthy and that if left too long, dangerous levels of bacteria can build up that conventional cooking may not eliminate.
But Krestovnikoff won’t be dissuaded. On a recent episode of the BBC One programme Inside Out, she hosted a roadkill dinner party with expert advice from enthusiast Jonathan McGowan, who has eaten a range of birds and animals killed on the roads.
His favourite roadkill is fox. “It can be baked, stewed or curried, but stir-fried fox is the best,” he said.
Krestovnikoff’s party began with fox nibbles, or “fox trots” as she called them. One guest described it as tasting like “a cross between steak and biltong”. She followed this with roasted rat, which another guest said tasted like “the smell of the dungheap side of the farmyard”.
About her badger chasseur, one guest said, “It’s like undercooked liver. If I could throw it quietly into a bin, I would.”
Unfortunately, but for their good manners, the guests looked as if they would have done that with every dish Krestovnikoff served.