Yesterday an incredibly uncomfortable looking Punxsutawney Phil -- "seer of seers, prognosticator of prognosticators" -- came out of his stump and declared six more weeks of winter. The crowd booed and Phil was put back into safety.
Or was he? Would it be possible for for those guys in top hats to eat a plump Phil or one of his brothers?
Despite being nicknamed whistlepigs, groundhogs are firmly in the rodent family, on the same branch as the quite edible squirrel. More importantly, they are in a different branch than the bubonic-plague-carrying prairie dog. Groundhogs seem to carry no life-threatening diseases to humans.
Just because they're safe to eat doesn't mean they taste good but apparently they do.
The expert source on this subject is an article from the January 1984 edition of Mother Earth News, which says, "groundhogs are eminently edible and delicious... whistle-pigs are
vegetarians. Thus, their meat, when properly prepared, is quite tasty
and tender." Elsewhere, people describe the groundhog as tasting similar to squirrel or rabbit.
Recipes for groundhog are variations of squirrel recipes, with the
addendum to cure the groundhog in salt water for 6 to 12 hours first
and remove the scent glands on the back and forelegs. Also,
I'm not sure what this says about groundhog eating, but most of the
recipes seem to be from the mid-1970s, like this one for
groundhog stew from 1973's Northern Cookbook:
2 onions, sliced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
Clean woodchuck; remove glands; cut into
serving pieces. Soak overnight in a solution of equal parts of water
and vinegar with addition of one sliced onion and a little salt. Drain,
wash, and wipe. Parboil 20 minutes, drain, and cover with fresh boiling
water. Add one sliced onion, celery, a few cloves, and salt and pepper
to taste. Cook until tender; thicken gravy with flour.
on your own on catching it.