Roast Duck with Cassava and Dandelion Greens

For Cook the Books Club, our latest read has been The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.  An inspired selection, for which the challenge was coming up with food to match.  Perhaps something from the extravagant feasts of the Capitol higher-ups or relating to the frugal, hungry foraging of the masses.

I had put off reading this particular book, not only because it is classed as "Young Adult", but its category, Science Fiction, is not my usual choice.  As a teen I went through an intense period of reading only this genre.  Perhaps got it out of my system.  Well, except for the Eve Dallas thrillers (by J.D. Robb), which do appear occasionally in my stack.  However all the adults I questioned gave it a thumbs up.  And, I must say, I was hooked right from the first page.  What a terrific read.  Even though you come to realize that nothing is really resolved or happy ever after, given that world.

At the same time, a scary reminder of what can all too easily happen in our own world.  As Gale muses, "It's to the Capitol's advantage to have us divided among ourselves."  Harkening to our recent elections as well as the continuing media and governmental drive to divide, by economic status and color.  So, not a completely lightweight book, but one which gets you to think as well as be entertained.

My inspiration for our cooking challenge came from the book's characters, Gale and Katniss, foraging and hunting in the forest, using whatever they could, to keep themselves and their families from starvation.  When Bob and I bought the property we live on here in Hawaii, one ideal (back in the day) was to grow some of our own food, to be able to survive if necessary, in an emergency situation, on what we could produce.  As I mentioned, an ideal.

So for this meal, duck traded with a friend, and cassava grown in our garden along with greens. Especially dandelions I thought, since they're not really cultivated, but foraged, would be a good survival meal.  Along with a glass of Lemon Mead, not necessary for existence, but groovy and  made from our own lemons.

As it turned out, the duck, reminiscent of a certain turkey my grandson caught while hunting a few years back, was perfect for the occasion.  There was absolutely no fat on this bird.  Yes, a duck, and I kid you not.  The first time I've ever had to baste a duck with olive oil.  Maybe this poor critter had spent its short life running from dogs.  I don't know.  I'm afraid to ask.  But, the equivalent of a wild, lean bird, after a hard winter. (in Hawaii??)  I added a glaze near the end of passion fruit jam thinned with a bit of passion fruit syrup from my pantry.  Though the wings and legs were on the tough side, the rest was very good.

The cassava, with more alias' than you can count (manioc, tapioca, yucca, etc.) is pia in Hawaiian, from which the classic luau treat, haupia is made.  It grows semi-wild on our property and can be counted on for sustaining life (well at least filling your stomach) in an emergency, or at any time actually.   Very similar to potatoes (I know I said that about the breadfruit in my last post), but hey, it's a starch and picks up whatever flavors you put with or on it.  Very simple prep, just peel, remove the center string, cut into pieces and steam or boil.  Serve with pan juices, gravy or butter.

I've been noticing the dandelion greens lately, scattered here and there, considering their use, so the challenge was a jump start in  that direction.  I enjoyed foraging for them wherever they had popped up, and added a handful to some garden arugula.

Altogether, a delicious meal, though admittedly not sustainable in any long term crisis.  We need to get a few goats and maybe convert the swimming pool to a big fish tank.  Just joking folks.  That would be in an extreme emergency.

Now on to the remaining books in Collins' series.  I am hoping the overall political situation can be changed.  We like our happy endings.  Check out all the reviews and food at Cook the Books Club, after Feb. 1st, and if you'd like there is still time before the 28th of January deadline to add your own contribution.


Heather S-G said...

I'm so happy that you wound up enjoying this selection, Claudia! And I just love your semi-foraged, locally sourced meal...perfectly inspired. (on a side note, I really want to try cassava...I've just never known what to do with it!)

Claudia said...

Thanks Heather, it was a good choice, and I enjoyed the challenge.

Joanne said...

How cool that you grow cassava!

And what a great meal!

Tina said...

I really like the book, but had my reservations before grabbing a copy. Movie was good too.
What a lovely duck meal . Wish I could get a decent duck here. Seriously, I would love to get a plate of that!

Camilla M. Mann said...

Wow! What a great meal. I am having the kids in my cooking around the world class mashing cassava for our African-inspired meal this week. Love that the dandelions were foraged. Perfect.

Debra Eliotseats said...

I have been so impressed with the food from this round's posts. Truly inspired. We too have had grandiose ideas about sustainability. I applaud your local meal! P.S. I really want to take a foraging class.

Rachel said...

Basting a duck with olive oil, what a concept! I always love your garden photos and this post's photos were no exception. Great job for Cook the Books!

Danid said...

I love how you foraged for your meal! How creative and very Katniss-like. It sounds delicious!

AM Nichols said...

I love how you foraged like Katniss for your supper. We do that with mushrooms in our back yard, too, here in GA.

Wondering if ducks need fat to keep them warm in the water in Hawaii as it's so mild there. Hmmmmm?

Ana said...

Really beautiful roast duck. And pairing it with dandelion greens was brilliant! Just what Katniss would forage for. You have my vote!

Deb in Hawaii said...

What a great post and a wonderful meal Claudia! That duck looks like pure perfection! ;-) Congrats on the win--it was well deserved.

(I am sorry it took so long for me to get around to everyone's entries this round.I am a bad co-host!)

salope62 said...

Hate to break it to you, Camilla Mann, and too bad it's so late, but cassava is from South America, and not from Africa.