Hunter gatherers

The party yesterday went well – loads of friends of Dad’s I haven’t seen for years (and who of course all remembered me, but I was strugling to work out who they were), and of course loads of family (some of whom I was also strugling to identify – I have 30-odd cousins, most of whom now have kids of their own, so I’ve given up on ever keeping track of them all!).

We’d spent all day preparing the food, which turned out great – lots of canapes to start, then barbequed salmon, crayfish (lobster) and venison, then chocolate cake and pavlova to finish. The nephews and I snuck one of the cakes away during dinner and decorated it with candles, to everyone’s delight except Dad’s 😉

I had a really interesting conversation with one of my Queenstown cousins – it turns out his daughters have almost exactly the same form of dyslexia/dyscalcia as I do. Then my uncle chipped in to say that he has it too, and he remembered Grandma saying something about having the same sorts of problems. So it looks like as well as inheriting asthma from Grandma I inherited dyslexia from her as well – gee, thanks Grandma, what a great inheritance!

Friends of Dad’s from Christchurch, K&G, are staying with them for a couple of days, so we took them up to Poolburn (think Rohan again… but this time it’s where they actually filmed those scenes). The others were fishing, but as I don’t have a licence (and never have any luck fishing anyway) I took my book, and had planned to sit by the lakeside and read. But instead I got fascinated by some huge yabbies/koura that were crawling around in the water below the rock where I was sitting (the water was very still and clear, so you could see a couple of metres down into it). Most yabbies you get are only about 10 cm long, but they can grow quite a bit bigger, and these ones were big – maybe twice that size. They were too deep for me to catch them, so I just sat and watched them – they’re fascinating they way they move around: most of the time they crawl, but if they’re startled they swim away backwards at great speed by flicking their tails.

Eventually the fisher-people got bored with the non-biting trout, so came over to see what I’d found, and we managed to catch a few of the yabbies by baiting one of the fishing lines with a left-over piece of salami from our lunchtime sandwiches, then once a yabbie grabbed hold of it pulling it up on the line until it was close enough to net.

K&G had never been yabbying before, and were so excited by the process that Dad suggested we go further round the lake to a stream that he knew to be full of yabbies. Another hour or two of wandering up and down the stream bagged us enough yabbies for a wee feed (i.e. about 30 or so – they’re pretty small, after all, and you only eat the tail part (where the big muscles are), so you only get a mouthful out of each one).

Our meal was added to on the way home, when we spotted some early mushrooms on the side of the road. The rest of the way down the hill we were all peering closely at the fields on either side, shouting “stop” at any flashes of white we saw (most of which turned out to be toadstools or puffballs, or just rocks…)

So by the time we got home with our feast we felt like real hunter-gatherers 😉

A bag of yabbies, still alive.

While we were waiting for the water to boil to cook them, one of the yabbies kept escaping from the bag and making a run for it across the back steps

Going into the pot.

Cooked yabbies. Like their marine cousins, they turn bright red when they’re boiled.

The final product: the tail meat with shell and “vein” (the polite term for “intestine full of poo”) removed. (We got a lot more than this – I took the photo when we’d only just started shelling them. We actually ended up with a bowl full.)

[PS. Sorry about the pictures – I’ve got no idea why they’re not showing up. It might be this computer, so I’ll try uploading them again when I get home.]

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One Comment

  1. The pictures are showing up fine for me…

    We call those things crawdads where I come from.

    Can’t eat them though… not kosher.

    But they look tasty!

    Shrooms! I intend to take a mushrooming class one day. I want to be able to gather safe ones and eat them….

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