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Wild Wales: Whythis might be a vegetarians next meal.

AT a distance it looks like a wet sack. But the nearer I get, the sticky tarmac around it and the close attentions of a lone crow tell me it is another casualty of the road.

Identified by the signs that warn motorists to be sure not to kill him, this badger is the sixth I have seen in one 30-mile journey on the eastbound carriageway of the A55.

The sad sight of the decapitated, deflated corpse makes me think of the road and all of its offshoots as minefields to these and other creatures.

But some would look at this depressing sight and think something entirely different - lunch!

The eating of 'roadkill', as the Americans term it, is on the increase, not due to extreme poverty or perversion but because people believe it to be good for us, and for animals.

Those leading the way in picking up these squashed corpses, skinning, gutting, cooking and eating them, are extremist vegetarians and vegans.

Because roadkill is not a farmed animal - born, bred and slaughtered for the table - but a free creature accidentally killed, it is viewed by many as ethically more acceptable.

A deer, badger or rabbit that never learned its green cross code has not been dehorned, debeaked, castrated or transported in lorries, so those who eat them claim the moral high ground over farmed meats. It is even argued it's nutritionally better for us as the wild creature has not been given any growth stimulants, hormones or antibiotics.

Repellent as eating of creatures crushed by cars may sound to most of us, it is on the increase in the States where there is even a Roadkill Cafe.

The number making meals out of roadside findings is also growing in England, where those who call themselves foragers or freegans feast on the dead. But the practice is yet to seduce us here in Wales, although it is expected to catch on soon. And any Brit tempted to fight the flies and crows for a meal has an advantage over American counterparts - it is perfectly legal to take home any roadkill here but the practice can incur a six-month prison sentence in certain American states, where it can be seen as theft.

Because it is legal to eat anything you scrape off the tarmac, practically any animal, endangered or not, is on the menu. So if you're lucky enough to find an unlucky badger, otter, swan, fox, deer, owl, hawk or feral cat, you are legally entitled to pop it in a pot.

But committed foragers suggest if you are going to eat any animal killed by traffic you should try to ensure it is as fresh as possible - any animal crawling with maggots or with dull eyes should be left for the crows.

And if you're wondering what badger tastes like take the word of poor BBC South West reporter Russell Labey, who was forced to sample one picked up off the tarmac and stewed by a forager.

'Tastes just like braising steak,' he concluded bravely

guide

Pant-yr-Ochain, Gresford (01978 853525N absolute delight to visit and doing very well at the moment, this gently upmarket place, set in its own attractive grounds with lovely trees and a small lake, has the feel of a country house.

Thoughtfully refurbished, the light and airy rooms are stylishly decorated with a wide range of interesting prints and bric-a-brac on walls and on shelves, plus a good mix of individually chosen country furnishings, including comfortable seats for relaxing as well as more upright ones for eating.

There are good open fires and thebig dining area is set out as a library with floor to ceiling bookshelves.

Excellent food, from a well balanced daily changing menu, might typically include mushroom and spinach soup (pounds 3.75) or an interesting pat such as Shropshire blue and caramelised apple with red onion marmalade and crostini (pounds 4.95).

Main courses include smoked haddock and salmon fishcakes (pounds 7.75), a burger such as minted lamb topped with feta cheese (pounds 8.25), grilled sardines on ciabatta with roasted lemon fennel and gazpacho, or Thai green chicken and shi-itake mushroom curry with lemon grass rice (pounds 9.95) or braised boneless blade of pork with mustard lentils and cider sauce (pounds 11.25).

Puddings include warmed waffle with chocolate fudge sauce and rum and raisin ice cream or treacle tart with butterscotch sauce (pounds 4.45Arrive early if you want a seat in the conservatory. Well kept real ales include Flowers Original, Thwaites, Timothy Taylors Landlord, locally brewed Plassey Bitter and Weetwood Old Dog and more than 60 malt whiskies. Service is friendly and professional - two rooms are no-smoking and one reader tells us there is good disabled access. Pant-yr-Ochain Open noon-11pm (10.30pm Sunday). Brunning and Price. Licensee Lynsey Prole. Real ale. Bar food noon-9.30pm (9pm Sunday). Kids welcome away from bar till 6pm From The Good Pub Guide 2005 edited by Alisdair Aird and Fiona Stapley (Ebury Press, price pounds 14.99
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 23, 2005
Words:838
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