Can You Eat a NJ Shore Seagull?
Out of all of the millions of times that you've seen a seagull around here, I betcha you've never once thought, "I wonder if I can eat that."
And if you have, well, I'm not going to judge. After all, I'm the one asking that question now.
First things first here -- I have never once thought that. Nor do I have any desire to chow-down on a seagull.
And if you are gagging a bit now at that thought, you're gonna love the rest of this article.
Anyway, here's how this all started. One of my co-workers wrote an article not too long ago about Doritos' new (at the time) strawberries and cream-flavored chips and her writings covered the South Jersey-type of flavors that they should have tried instead.
Many of us, myself included, are a bit sarcastic here at the radio station and I immediately thought "seagull" should have been a flavor -- being funny and obviously not serious in any way, shape, or form.
And that's how this whole thought process started.
Again, I have never once thought of eating a seagull. I don't want to eat a seagull. I am not encouraging you to eat a seagull. Not to mention that it's illegal to kill a seagull in New Jersey. So, from here on out, this is a strictly theoretical question: if you wanted to, could you?
I mean, we eat chicken. We eat turkey. And quail and pheasant. Those are all birds.
To start this vile research, I decided to first consult our in-house South Jersey hunting and fishing expert, Tom P. I figured his initial reaction to my question would be all that I needed to know.
When I asked him if one could eat a seagull, he simply said, "Cooked, sure! Raw, I wouldn't!"
That answer left me perplexed. And at a loss for words.
And a little nauseous.
And with that, I began doing some digging.
The best answer that I found was, "you probably don't want to." But you could. And people have.
The site woodsmanreport.com has a whole article about this (see, I'm not the only one, thank you). They say,
"You can eat seagulls. People in the Orkneys, Shetlands, and St Kildas used to survive on these large birds."
Key words: used to.
Those people enjoyed seagulls that ate a lot of fish. Not French fries. Not pizza. Not stuff laying in the middle of 8th Street in Ocean City. Not stuff picked out of trash cans on the boardwalk. Not stuff left behind on the beach. Not stuff that fell out of a dumpster. And that's the key difference.
"The taste of the seagull is going to greatly depend on the way it was raised and what it eats. If the seagull is eating rubbish and trash, it will like taste similar to that of a crow."
I have no idea what a crow tastes like and I am not going to find out. But, I think it's safe to say that a seagull is what it eats and if it eats stuff you and I don't want then that's what it's going to taste like.
Oh, and not to mention who knows what types of diseases or illnesses you could contract since the seagulls around here are eating who knows what.
Again, apologies if you are gagging a bit. But wait -- there's more.
While they are pretty big birds, there isn't a lot of meat to be had. Even if seagulls tasted good, it would be a lot of work for very little reward.
Alright, I'm starting to gag a little.
The article goes on to say,
"Despite its taste and the oily texture..."
Wait -- oily texture?
Mmmmmm...... oily meat.
I also saw a reference to them having a, "very tough stringy texture."
Anyway, if you still want to eat seagull, I found a reference to a book from 1866 at theoldfoodie.com, which says you should, "Leave the birds in salt and water for eight hours, when their fishy taste will be found to be quite gone...".
Quite gone. Not totally gone. But again, these were fish-eating seagulls, not dumpster divers.
Once you take the little bit of seagull meat you can get (and remember, it's oily and nasty and tough and stringy), how do you cook it?
Another website says to let it simmer in a broth with herbs for three hours -- and then (I'm not kidding here) throw the pan away because you will never be able to get rid of the "dirty seagulls taste."
So I think it's safe to say that you don't want to eat a seagull. Any recipe that ends with having to throw the pan away is a deal-breaker for me.
That being said, for one cup of seagull meat you’ll get about 300 calories.
And if you are looking for me later, I'll be over in the corner throwing up.