Geese as Guard Dogs…

The large and rich-flavored goose eggs are just an extra bonus! 

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Our neighbor’s coop was repeatedly attacked by martens, the small European wild predators that seem to thrive on the island. Twice in the winter they have nested inside the engine of our pickup truck and we had to shower them with the hose because we couldn’t otherwise scare them enough to make them leave. They somehow manage to get into the coops, even if they are well-fenced with strong wire on all sides, and kill the chicken severing their heads.

After yet another attack, Stathi, our neighbor, decided to get a couple of geese as most islanders do here in Kea. They have found that geese are the best guard dogs, so almost everybody who keeps hens adds geese for protection.

Last Christmas Costas and I wanted to roast a goose and asked the butcher if he could get us one, but he seemed genuinely puzzled: “Do people really eat goose?” he asked in disbelief. Other people we asked had similar reaction, apparently considering geese a ‘useful animal’—like the cats they keep to eat the rats or their hunting dogs– not as food.

Apparently Keans are not the only ones who use the big birds as guard dogs. I read that in rural parts of China’s Xinjiang Province, the police are no longer using dogs to stand guard at police stations at night. They’re using geese instead, and it works perfectly.

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Apart from being ideal guards, geese –domesticated in Egypt more than 4,000 years ago– also lay eggs. Stathi gave us two and I immediately fried one in olive oil; it was delicious!
Large as two hens’ eggs they have a huge deep-yellow yolk that is creamy, rich and densely flavored. I read that “some chefs particularly prize goose eggs for making pasta, claiming a superior flavor and texture in the final product.”

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In order to better enjoy the second goose egg, I gathered some chard leaves from the garden, some scallions, green garlic, chervil and cilantro. I briefly sautéed the greens and herbs in olive oil, and then fried the goose, and two regular eggs on top. We ate them with my freshly-baked bread and compared the taste with the really great eggs that also come from Stathis’ free-range hens; we can confirm that this huge egg was really exceptional.
We look forward to more…

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