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In the winter I've tried lobbing snowballs at the roost; in the summer turning the garden hose on it when the birds return at sundown. But they always come back, fluttering, cooing, mocking. The final straw came this bright and sunny Sunday, as I returned home after an idyllic afternoon spent foraging for goose eggs along the banks in River Park. Before I could turn the key in the door, I felt a warm, wet splat on the edge of my head, and in an instant a trail of goo stretched to my shoulder and down the front of my jacket.
The sorts of people who claim this is good luck are the Neville Chamberlains of urban survival. I've been known to seek culinary solutions to problems caused by urban wildlife. The time had come to widen the circle of life.
So if it's OK to eat wild country pigeons, is there any reason why we can't eat their bread-crumb-eating, popcorn-pecking urban cousins? "Most problematic issues can be taken care of by thorough cooking, so eating is going to be the least of your worries," says Steve Sullivan, curator of urban ecology for the Chicago Academy of Sciences and a specialist in urban wildlife.
I was able to source a flock of humanely killed city pigeons—I won't say where—but let's just say they won't be keeping anyone awake anymore. First, I dunked them briefly in a pot of boiling water to loosen their feathers, then plucked them clean before gutting them. I'm sure you know how that goes.
I imagined sort of an inverse of the dramatic technique of beer-can chicken, in which a bird is gracelessly squatted on an open can of herb-spiced beer and placed atop a charcoal grill. Instead, I cut the tops off a bunch of aluminum cans half filled with Malort, along with some oregano and thyme, and dunked my pigeons in headfirst. An hour over gentle, indirect heat and these birds were falling-off-the-bone tender, just in time for Easter dinner.
Most guests communicated a general surprise that city pigeons didn't have any of the musky taste of bigger wild game. I don't think that's an indication that it was overseasoned. I think it's because pigeon doesn't have an assertive flavor to begin with, at least not one that corresponds with its brazen behavior.
Proverbially, it tastes like chicken.