May. 10, 2022

Please Pass the Goose Feet

The weather is creeping into the eighties in Wisconsin now that it’s May, and this will mean that folks will want to sit outside on porches and beaches and drink beer. This is in stark contrast to cold Wisconsin winters when folks would much rather sit inside in front of televised sports events and drink beer.

No matter the season, beer is frequently a welcome guest, and this has been true for thousands of years, even outside of Wisconsin. If you’ve been coming to class regularly, you know that last week, I wrote about Egyptian beer, which was contributing to tickets for CWI (charioteering while intoxicated) way back in Pre-dynastic times. I learned how the ancient Egyptians brewed beer while I was doing research for my novel, The Book of Invasions. However, I also had to study the history of Ireland, and to no one’s surprise, the beverage that figured prominently into their ancient culture was coffee.

Kidding. It was beer.

Thus, 5,000 years ago, both the Egyptians and Irish were drinking beer. So let’s talk about what the Irish were eating. And nothing conjures more appetizing visuals than Goosefoot Porridge. You’re probably imagining a sickening-looking gruel made of boiled goose feet. Goosefoot Porridge does not actually contain goose feet. It contains boiled seeds from the goosefoot family of plants. Nobody eats geese feet.

Or so I thought. A quick Googling showed me how wrong I was. Chichi Wang, writing in the food blog Serious Eats, has this to say about eating goose feet:

“Goose and duck feet have ample amounts of webbing; when stewed, they are delicate and tender with a hint of chewiness that resembles the texture of simmered sheets of bean curd. While goose and duck feet are more prized in Chinese cuisine, I prefer the meatiness of a chicken's foot.”

Chichi Wang’s thorough explanation raises the possibility that consumption of poultry feet may lead to insanity.

And this is why ancient Egyptians and Celts drank so much beer. They didn’t even want to have to think about the possibility of eating actual geese feet. And this liquid nourishment led the Egyptians to build monumental pyramids, while the Irish built huge passage tombs. The Chinese, meanwhile, built a wondrous wall more than 13,000 miles long.

Its primary purpose may not have been to protect their recipes.