This isn’t exactly local food, but wherever you go, especially on holiday, it’s always fun to forage or catch something edible, especially as the efforts involved are often as much fun as the eating.
With two small children in tow, it’s difficult to do the hunter gatherer thing particularly effectively, however I did manage to catch some small-mouth bass while on holiday in New Hampshire, USA using some delightfully coloured worm lures seasoned in garlic. My host canoed gently around the lake while I cast near fallen trees and lilly pads, and in one instance he leapt from the canoe into chest high water to successfully land one of the bass that had tried to escape into reeds.
The following day we went in search of a swimming hole on the nearby Sugar River. We found the perfect spot – a beach just below a beaver dam with a rope swing on the far side. We also spotted a large number of crayfish, and while the children swam, we pursued the crayfish using a lacrosse stick net. After a bit of trial and error, we found a system that worked – one person would get behind the crayfish with the lacrosse stick lowered carefully to the sand, while the other person would gently deflect its attention by calmly wiggling fingers in front of it’s nose. If you alarmed the crayfish too early he would scoot out of sight, and if you tried to snare him with the net, a huge cloud of silt would billow up and you had to find a new spot. The trick was to quietly approach him in front and persuade him backwards into the net.
The lacrosse net is not an ideal weapon as the sides have large holes – so once the crayfish was in the net, you pulled it sharply out of the water and tried to grab the crayfish with your hands while avoiding being nipped by pincers.
We stalked them for several hours, collecting about 30 in all, which when cooked made for a small bowl full. Once you had taken the head and shell off, we probably had a good five mouthfulls (they weren’t very big). They were delicious and it was enormous fun catching them, but possibly not the most productive hunt.
The American Signal Crayfish can now be found in British waters and is an enormous pest, destroying delicate river systems and replacing our native white claw crayfish. If you live by a river, it’s worth investigating whether you have these pests around, and if so, you can invest in a crayfish pot that you need to bait. Leave it overnight and you can get huge numbers quite quickly – a far more effective method than the lacrosse stick stalk. You will need a licence, but it would be well worth it.
The other alternative is to order crayfish at Foodsplace – all the taste, none of the hassle.