I wanted to title this “Game Birds” but Jim Schiltz would not allow me to do so. I just got off the phone with him in a fascinating interview in which I learned many things about….. birds.
Who is Jim Schiltz? Only the head of Schiltz Foods, Inc. and Schiltz Goose Farm, Inc. He knows his birds. He told me geese were domesticated about the same time as dogs and cattle. My research on dogs says up to 40,000 years. I’d have to check my father-in-law, the rancher and former dairyman, on cattle.
For those of you who know me from the past, yes, I still want a capon and have spent years finding one. While I’ll be at Nanny’s for my 13th Thanksgiving with my husband’s family and am only allowed to bring table snacks, sides and a dessert, Christmas is a different story, to be told later.
One of my favorite girlie movies is the one where the Aussie/Canadian girl learns to fly and takes the geese, from the eggs she found, south for the winter. Fly Away Home, with Anna Pacquin and Jeff Daniels and Dana Delaney. These must be different geese.
The farm began in 1944 and Jim was added to the gaggle in 1962. After tastiness, they had to breed for white feathers because everywhere but France, where the infamous Toulouse geese live and die, people want white down pillows, not grey ones.
Jim said he’d heard of an 82 year-old goose, and that many can live to 25 or even 40, but after maturity they usually go to dog food. Lucky dogs! Mine eats frozen raw rabbit, lamb, turkey, and venison, but I’ll have to check out goose.
Which brings me to capon. It was always a special meal in our home and widely available, even in rural neighborhoods like the one I grew up in. On my birthday I got to choose my cake (Viennese Chocolate Pecan Torte) and dinner, which was capon.
I mis-spoke earlier when I said this was my 13th Thanksgiving at Nanny’s. My husband worked for an online retailer years ago and they wouldn’t let him off for Black Friday so we had to forgo the trip. A month earlier I went to Whole Foods and asked for a capon. No. I asked why? No reason. I asked customer service. No answer. I called HQ. I don’t know why they won’t let me order a capon.
Look up capon on this site. I’ve done my research. Wapsie Farms had capon. Marc and Jim struck up a friendship at industry events and now Schiltz farms has a capon enterprise as well, and you can order from them at http://www.roastgoose.com.
My husband has been off for several months on a consulting contract but of course we’re meeting at his Nanny’s for Thanksgiving. Christmas we’ll have on our own. I’m getting a goose, a capon and a container of goose fat to make Pommes Anna and keep in the frig for good stuff. Jim even told me how to cook a goose (recipes are on the site) but they do have a goose for ‘fraidy cats. Get it frozen and heat it up in an hour. Your family and guests will never know and you can make side dishes instead of basting!
I do shop at Whole Foods Market and everyone is nice to me at this store, but I may have to keep moving around the country to keep that the case when I bring up capon. The store’s protein rules are strict and arbitrary. My father-in-law would love to get his registered Angus cattle into the butcher’s case, and so would raisers of geese and capons.
Principles, not solely marketing, should be the driving force in a market, and that market could be anything from Wall Street to Main Street. The holier-than-thou attitude of Whole Foods Market looks down on anyone not wearing espadrilles and carrying in ten bags then asking if you want to donate a dollar for using the bags you already bought from them, and if you want to donate to their charity of the month.
GIVE ME CAPON! For heaven’s sake, is that too much to ask? Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving. I’m making spicy almonds and cashews, marinated Kalamata olives, cranberry chutney, brussels sprouts and cauliflower gratin, and mincemeat tarts. And driving 1,500 miles to get there.
Many thanks and happy holidays to the Schiltz’s and the Wapsies, who both hail from Iowa. I won’t hit that state or SD en route but got a bunch of quarters to get through the Oklahoma Territory as I messed up and put a dollar bill in the machine two years ago. Oops, almost got a warrant on that one. Caponly yours, Dee