(K. Brent Tomer),
The Man Who Ate the Zoo: Frank Buckland, Forgotten Hero of Natural History. By Richard Girling. Chatto & Windus; 392 pages; £17.99.
ROAST giraffe, apparently, tastes a little like veal. A hedgehog, meanwhile, is “good and tender”. Exhumed panther, however, comes with a weaker recommendation. One such beast, having died in a London zoo, been buried for a couple of days then dug up, was pronounced “not very good”.
Frank Buckland was a 19th-century scientist, surgeon and culinary buccaneer who, as the title of this biography declares, “ate the zoo”. That is to understate his achievements: Buckland ate much that no self-respecting zoo would consider for its cages, earwigs (“horribly bitter”) being a particular low point.
The aim of this was not gastronomy but science. As a biologist and an optimist, Buckland wanted to find a new source of protein to help the world avoid the Malthusian doom that had been predicted a generation before. He had high hopes for horsemeat, but found quality control a problem. Having sampled a bad portion, he came to suggest it should be served in…Continue reading