Review - Wild Game Dinner II (or Please Don't Eat the Turtle )
Naturally, it's one of those things that takes place where it's 30 miles to the nearest Wal-Mart. The five of us rendezvoused at Swank's parents' house in the rural flatlands of NW Ohio to pick up our tickets and make sure our cigar supplies were in order. Then, with a mild warning in our ears about the perils of drinking beer out of ½ gallon milk jugs, we set off for some even more rural flatlands. Our destination was a dot on the map consisting of a 2-way stop sign, a church, an elementary school, a gym, and a cemetery. The organizers must have been expecting quite a crowd, because they used the school cafeteria and the gym, and they enclosed the open breezeway between the two (baby, it was cold outside!) Now, these were some large facilities, and they were filled to overflowing. There had to be a couple of thousand men at this thing, and we were all bumping elbows for most of the night. One thing's for sure, if attendance grows at all for next year's event, we'll have to eat in shifts. It appears that the word is spreading about wild game night, as evidenced by the chartered bus parked there. The more astute reader might be curious to know where the bus was from, but the less astute reporter neglected to ask. This was a stag event, but exceptions were made when it came to doling out the grub. In fact, one of the ladies serving us was mother, mother-in-law, and aunt to 3 in our little group. In my estimation, that was a brave bunch of women.
After we arrived, we collected our souvenir mugs and filled them at the tap. Then we made our way to the food line. The line stretched the length of the breezeway, down one side of the gym, across it at the far end in front of the stage, and then halfway back down the other side. The good thing about the wait was that it gave you a chance to lighten the load on your wallet at the gaming tables lining the gym walls. There was Lucky 7, Beat the Dealer (or Beat Up the Dealer, if you're losing), Big 6, etc. And if you forgot your cards or cigars, you could pick those up in line, too. Now, cards are cards, but you haven't smoked a cigar until you've smoked a Swisher "Which end do you light?" Sweet. (Now, make sure you take the link to Cigar.com to make up for this blasphemy.)
Finally, we reached the serving line, and the anticipation that had been building up was making us goofy. Then again, it's hard to let a dish like Roast Beaver go without some kind of mature comment. But what a spread! There was the aforementioned Beaver, Turtle in Piquante (sic) sauce, Snowshoe Hare, Raccoon, Buffalo/Venison Meatloaf, Roast Buffalo, Steamboat Roast Beef, and Swordfish ("I believe in Swordfish! He believes in Swordfish!" Any Dead Milkmen fans out there?). Of course, there were a bunch of sides, including the best damn bread I've ever tasted, supplied by a local bakery. All in all, there was more good stuff than any one person could safely eat.
I learned a thing or three that night. I learned that critters in the small wild game category seem to have more bones than muscle, so it's important to chew carefully. It only takes one instance of chomping down on something as hard as your teeth to make you permanently cautious about whatever else might be hiding behind the gristle. I also learned that snowshoe hare looks and tastes just like farm-raised rabbit, and rabbit = chicken as far as I'm concerned, and chicken is nothing to get excited about.
I have to come clean now: I did not eat the raccoon or the turtle. I decided against the raccoon because of the large numbers of them I've seen raiding dumpsters and garbage cans. Perhaps these particular 'coons lived a natural life, but I thought the odds were against it. I also avoided the turtle. I would have tried it, but Messrs. Maudling and Swank advised me that turtle tasted like the fermented pond water we used in biology class for observing the world of single-celled organisms.
Everything else was delicious, and I was glad that I had eaten very little at lunch. Although the swordfish nuggets were very popular, my personal favorite was the roast buffalo. I believe it was seasoned with Teriyaki spices, and it was oh, so rare. And there was so much of everything! I didn't realize that buffalo had any features on them as big as those roasts, and they were bringing out the meatloaf by the cubic yard! Of course, there was enough beer to flood the place, but the selling point there was the fact that it was served up in milk jugs. It was just plain old Michelob, but hey, we didn't go there for the beer, after all.
When we could stuff our pie holes no more, we broke out the cards and cigars and got down to the serious business of poker. By serious, I mean calling hands like "13 card stud, 5 down, 7 up, last one down for suspense." When we could stop laughing, we actually got a lot of card playing done. Another thing I learned that night is that it seems that the more you play poker, the luckier you get. Since I haven't played for nearly a decade, I was lining everyone else's pockets with my silver. Quarters, that is. Until we switched to dimes to keep from losing too fast. When I ran out of money and they wouldn't let me bet my watch, I retired to lick my wounds.
Good sport that I am, though, I'm happy to report that an excellent time was had by all. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Reggie for rescuing me from smoking my horrid "Cuban Seed" Tubos with a fine Partagas cigar. We are all looking forward to going back next year. I hear that 'gator has been on the menu in years past. Hmm, 'gator, 'possum, pheasant…
Ranking: out of 5 BB&B's.
Price: $32, includes all the beer and food you can consume
Location: Assumption, Ohio annually. Contact us if you want to go.