Why This Man Is Eating a Beached Dolphin for His Christmas Dinner
Last year, he ate a badger for Christmas, but this year, 76-year-old "roadkill chef" Arthur Boyt has a more marine mammal on his menu.
There's been a growing outcry in recent years from holiday noncomformists who say that traditional holiday fare isn't all that great. It can be challenging to make a turkey truly flavorful and delicious, and the pitfalls are many. And there's something to be said for breaking outside the ham-turkey-roast confines of the holiday season.
One British man is planning to blow past all the traditional Christmas culinary boundaries this year when he serves up beached dolphin for Christmas lunch, and British marine authorities are looking into whether he may be breaking the law by doing so.
Seventy-six-year-old Arthur Boyt has been eating roadkill since he was 13-years-old. Last year, he ate a badger for Christmas. He's eaten foxes, rabbits, weasels, hedgehogs, squirrels, deer and otters he's happened upon for years. The retired biologist, who calls Camelford in Cornwall, England, home, says he eats roadkill primarily for ethical reasons. He's not alone in thinking roadkill is both ethical and delicious.
"The great thing about roadkill is that you are getting meat without the guilt of killing an animal or having one killed on your behalf," Boyt told The Telegraph.
Boyt recently found a dead common dolphin washed up on a beach, not far from a washed-up seal (which he's already eaten), and he has since frozen its meat for Christmas Day. It wasn't clear to Boyt how the dolphin died, and the body had no signs of trauma.
But though some look at eating roadkill as an ethical way to eat meat, British marine conservation officers think that Boyt might be breaking the law. An ancient law specifies dolphin as a "Fish Royal," meaning that it is the property of the British crown. (Think the "king's deer" in Robin Hood.) Whales, sturgeon and porpoises are also deemed royal fish.
"Whales and dolphins are not public property—they belong to the Crown," Danny Groves, a spokesman for the Whales & Dolphin Conservation told The Daily Mail. "If they do get washed up, they should be removed by local authority."
Groves further warns that dead whales and dolphins can carry transferable diseases, and certain types of whales may be heavy in mercury. Removing a stranded marine animal requires a license.
Boyt, however, seems to be most concerned with how he will serve the dolphin, which he says is "delicious." He's been eating some of the dolphin meat to experiment, and thinks he will serve it as a casserole with beetroot, potatoes, carrots, garlic, and herbs with a side of cauliflower. He's tried frying the dolphin without any luck. Boyt says dolphin isn't fishy or oily and doesn't have a distinct flavor. He told The Telegraph that the texture is unusual, softer than land-based meats, and flaky.
"You almost squash it with your tongue rather than chewing it."
Boyt will be eating Christmas lunch with his wife and mother-in-law, but they won't be partaking of the dolphin. Unsurprisingly, his wife is a vegetarian.
'There will still be a traditional turkey on Christmas Day but I don't like buying and eating meat," Boyt said.
Should anyone have any interest in following Boyt's example and eating roadkill for Christmas, you should do some serious research and make sure you know the laws about harvesting roadkill in your area. But Boyt has some pointers, too. First, you'll need to be flexible.
"What you have for Christmas depends very much on what you find by the road in the week or so beforehand—unless you are like me and keep a good supply of all kinds of roadkill in the freezer," Boyt told the Daily Mail.
Boyt says rabbits are very tasty and nutritious, can serve up to four, and they are "always getting killed on the road." Badgers are nice and plump this time of year, and, when eating one, "the family will be amazed and there will be no tire mark on the meat."
"If it looks reasonably fresh, don't worry about how long it has been dead as in this cold weather they will last for weeks, unless its skin comes off in your hand when you pick it up by the back leg, in which case it may be too strong for any palate but that of the connoisseur." How appetizing.
Boyt says a roadkill Christmas is not only tasty, but something you can feel good about eating.
"It's a situation much more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas," he says. "I feel very strongly about killing animals, so strongly [that] I can only just about manage a chicken leg at a party or something."
But Christmas parties can be overrated, anyway. Better to stay at home for Christmas leftovers.