According to American Indian myths and the lore of American mountain men, beaver has always been on the menu. Some claim that these myths are just that -- myths, but modern research shows otherwise. Recipes for beaver are fairly easy to find, and some specialty restaurants even serve beaver meat.
American Indians and Beaver
Documentation of American Indians' consumption of beaver meat dates as far back as the late 1400s. During the fur trade, Europeans encountered the Ojibwa tribe, who had several uses for the beaver. They wore clothing made from animal skins, including beaver. They used beaver pelts as bedding. They fashioned beaver teeth into cutting tools. They also ate beaver meat regularly. The Ojibwas even considered the tail of the beaver to be a delicacy.
Just as the American Indians enjoyed the taste of beaver meat, so do modern people. The beaver is Canada's most symbolic rodent, and one that is consumed regularly. One Canadian dish, called beavertail beans, involves a beaver tail being blistered over a fire to remove the skin and then boiled in a pot of beans.
Characteristics of Beaver Meat
Beaver meat -- while considered gamey and greasy -- shares characteristics with several other types of meats. Beaver meat is deep red, and its taste is sometimes compared to that of roast pork. Beaver meat is also high in fat, with the tail containing more fat than the other cuts.
Beaver Recipes in the American South
Even as far south as Louisiana, beaver tail is considered to be a delicacy. Local recipes include seasoning the tail and then roasting it over an open campfire. Another instructs you to marinate it in salt water, bread it and deep-fry it. Yet another suggests dicing the tail meat and using it as a seasoning for bean dishes.
- First People: Native American Legends Beaver Meat
- Boreal Forest Library: Brief History of the Fur Trade and the Voyageurs
- Bill Cassleman; Canadian Food Words; William Gordon Cassleman; 2011
- Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky Mountain West -- Eating Beaver Tail: A Mountain Delicacy or Mountain Man Joke
- Louisiana Public Broadcasting -- After the Hunt With Chef John Folse
- Uncle Steve's Hot Stuff: Beaver