My First Helping of Canada Goose

When my father called to say a friend of his had pulled up with the carcass of a freshly killed goose, and that he planned to cook it for family dinner, I was more than a little hesitant

When I told people I was planning to eat a Canada Goose, they looked at me as if I’d said I was roasting a rat for dinner. The wild Branta canadensis is ranked down there with the pigeon and the seagull as one of North America’s most loathed birds. And for good enough reason. A flock of geese flying in formation might look beautiful from a distance, but these birds cause problems, crowding parks and public space and polluting waterfronts with their waste. Many farmers hate them too. A group of hungry geese searching for seed can trample a newly planted field in mere minutes, wasting the crop. Their reputation both city side and in the country is so bad that, when, over the years, officials have suggested culling the flocks and then offering the meat at homeless shelters, the response often has been outrage at the idea of forcing on the poor the indignity of eating a Canada Goose. There are people who prefer to hunt geese over other game, and, on both sides of the border, paid hunting tours are organized to stake out the birds. In an excellent short story set in Toronto, three struggling newcomers to Canada salivate at the sight of the food wandering around the city’s parks. The punch line comes when they catch a few geese one dark night and cook them up. As the narrator says after dinner: “Well them geese taste good.”

These divergent opinions have led to a debate: Should we eat the Canada Goose?

I recently jumped into the discussion when my dad called to say that a hunter friend had pulled up with the carcass of a freshly killed goose blood, feathers, guts, and all. He said we would be cooking it for the next family dinner. To be honest, I was hesitant. I am locavore inclined and eat domesticated fowl of all sorts I adore duck and am particularly fond of a lightly poached duck egg but there was something about eating a wild goose that made me stop. Was it that I had seen too many of them paddling around polluted lakefronts? Or maybe it was their predilection for foraging on the pesticide saturated lawns of golf courses? It was as if the Canada Goose’s close association with human activity meant there was something unclean about them. Sure, on the one hand they were wild, but because they like to wander in all sorts of icky places, eating one of the birds sounded just as appetizing as eating a back alley pigeon.

So I called up a goose hunter.

Drake Larsen is a researcher in sustainable agriculture at Iowa State University who happens to be an avid hunter and who bags well over a dozen Canada Geese a year. He learned his passion for waterfowl hunting from his dad, who called his kids after the birds: Drake is named after the male duck, and his siblings Teal and Woodie after two different species. Canada Goose and venison are the main protein sources for Larsen and his wife. The day I called, he had been out on a goose hunt. “They’re so yummy,” he said. “It’s good, lean, rich meat. I find they are similar to a good cut of beef.”

It turns out that goose meat is just as versatile as beef, and the best way to cook it depends on the season. In the fall, the geese have not yet fattened up for winter. Their meat is lean and does not lend itself to roasting. Larsen slices open these fall birds and pops out their breast meat. They he cooks the breasts like steaks, stir fries them, or even grinds them to fill casings and make Canada Goose sausage. A winter bird, however, is fatter and is ideal for roasting. Larsen said his colleagues at work really enjoy a pulled goose sandwich that he prepares in a slow cooker at the office.

And not only are the birds good to eat they are also fun to hunt. Because of theirflneur like loitering, a Canada Goose might seem an easy snatch, but it takes skill to nab one. To catch a goose, Larsen will set up a flock of decoys designed to attract the attention of his prey in an area near to where the geese congregate. Then he lies down amid the faux geese, waves a black flag to get their attention, and practices his goose calls. “Ducks have a simple language. Geese have more of a vocabulary,” he said. “If [the geese] were coming toward me, I’d do a soft, slow, rhythmic honking. But if they were sideways, I would do a more distinctive pleading like ‘Turn here! Turn here!’ I find the calling is the invigorating part.”

While my dad isn’t a hunter, he is a pretty handy guy, so he was able to pluck, skin, and gut the goose himself. It did take him five hours and, when he was done, the lawn was covered with a fine layer of goose down. My mom decided to slow roast the goose upside down in red wine. The smell of the cooking meat was rich and fragrant, but when she pulled the bird from the oven, it had a dark, shriveled quality and I still wasn’t convinced that eating the goose was a good idea.

Then I took a bite. The meat was dark as liver, and earthy too, but not greasy or gamey. It was delicious. Aside from the lead shot my husband found embedded in his dinner, the Canada Goose made for a delicious meal and even our kids loved it. As for the debate about whether or not to eat the birds, I now wholeheartedly fall into the eat ‘em camp. This summer, Canada Geese that strayed too close to New York City’s airport were culled and shipped to Pennsylvania to be offered in food banks there.

Things we thought we understood narratives, data, software, news events have had to be reinterpreted in light of Donald Trump’s surprising win as well as the continuing questions about the role that misinformation and disinformation played in his election.

Tech journalists covering Facebook had a duty to cover what was happening before, during, and after the election. Reporters tried to see past their often liberal political orientations and the unprecedented actions of Donald Trump to see how 2016 was playing out on the internet. Every component of the chaotic digital campaign has been reported on, here at The Atlantic, and elsewhere: Facebook’s enormous distribution power for political information, rapacious partisanship reinforced by distinct media information spheres, the increasing scourge of “viral” hoaxes and other kinds of misinformation that could propagate through those networks, and the Russian information ops agency.

The former Yale English professor William Deresiewicz stirred up quite a storm earlier this month with his New Republic essay “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League” a damning critique of the nation’s most revered and wealthy educational institutions, and the flawed meritocracy they represent. He takes these arguments even further in his upcoming book, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. Part cultural commentary, part philosophical treatise on the meaning of education itself, the book reads like a self help manual for ambitious yet internally adrift adolescents struggling to figure out how to navigate the college system, and ultimately their own lives.

In the years 1932 and 1933, a catastrophic famine swept across the Soviet Union. It began in the chaos of collectivization, when millions of peasants were forced off their land and made to join state farms. It was then exacerbated, in the autumn of 1932, when the Soviet Politburo, the elite leadership of the Soviet Communist Party, took a series of decisions that deepened the famine in the Ukrainian countryside. Despite the shortages, the state demanded not just grain, but all available food. At the height of the crisis, organized teams of policemen and local Party activists, motivated by hunger, fear, and a decade of hateful propaganda, entered peasant households and took everything edible: potatoes, beets, squash, beans, peas, and farm animals. At the same time, a cordon was drawn around the Ukrainian republic to prevent escape. The result was a catastrophe: At least 5 million people perished of hunger all across the Soviet Union. Among them were nearly 4 million Ukrainians who died not because of neglect or crop failure, but because they had been deliberately deprived of food.

It is insufficient to state the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it. Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit.

Whereas Donald J. Trump stood beneath American flags on the steps of the United States Capitol on January 20, 2017, placed his hand on a Bible, and spoke these words:

I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States; and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God.

Whereas the Constitution of the United States reads in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Last week, Sotheby’s auctioned off 140 little black dresses. The event, “Les Petites Robes Noires, 1921 2010,” featured vintage dresses collected by the fashion antiquarian Didier Ludot. A dazzling mix of silk faille, velvet, jersey, and tulle all in black cut simple silhouettes. The collection included iconic pieces from Chanel, Givenchy, and Herms. The more expensive lots fetched over 20,000 euros.

To introduce the collection, Ludot wrote, “Today I pay tribute to the astonishing story of the little black dress and to the designers who wrote its story, a dizzying tale . from the Roaring Twenties to the new millennium.” But the most astonishing part of the little black dress’s story might be its prologue, the backstory left out of the auction catalogue, the glossy coffee table books, and the fashion magazines. The most important acolytes of the little black dress were not designers nor aristocrats, but masses of working class women.

Deep in the Mariana Trench, at depths lower than the Rockies are high, rests a tin of reduced sodium Spam.

NOAA scientists caught sight of it last year near the mouth of the Mariana’s Sirena Deep. It isn’t an isolated incursion, but it was nevertheless startling, the sight of those timeless golden letters bright against the deep ocean bottom.

Shortly after came news from another team of scientists who had found in the Mariana an innovation less familiar than shelf stable meat, but far more significant. In the bodies of deep dwelling creatures were found traces of industrial chemicals responsible for the rise of modern America polychlorinated biphenyls.

PCBs had been detected in Hirondellea gigas, tiny shrimp like amphipods scooped up by deepwater trawlers. Results from the expedition, led by Newcastle University’s hadal zone expert Alan Jamieson, were preliminary released last year and then published in February.