Saturday, September 11, 2004

I think it's about time that I said something about kangaroos.

There are lots of things you can do with kangaroos. In many parts of Australia, you can spot them and watch them. If you want a more interactive experience, you can pet kangaroos. One place where you can do this is at Australia Zoo, where there is a nice tame-kangaroo enclosure complete with no-touch sections where the animals can de-stress. If you want to chuck a placid kangaroo under the chin outside the confines of a zoo, you can also try the main entrance to Kangaroo Island's Flinders Chase National Park.

There's a type of interactive experience that you really don't want to have with a kangaroo, and that's to smack one down with your car when the critter bounds out into the road. We didn't hit any, but we saw lots of roadkills on Kangaroo Island, where many rental car companies won't cover macropod impacts to your vehicle. There were also a lot of ex-kangaroos along roadsides in coastal South Australia and Victoria, and on several occasions near dusk, we were impressed by how quickly a 'roo could materialize from the brush and pop across the paved road. From the sizes of some of the victims, I'd deduce that some of the responsible vehicles must have been the worse for wear as well.

A third thing that you can do with a kangaroo, supposedly no news to Europeans though unfamiliar to Americans, is to eat it. During the last month, I ate smoked, grilled, and braised kangaroo on multiple occasions. (I skipped the kangaroo pie in Kuranda, but would have tried it if we'd had time for one more meal there.) I don't necessarily recommend rare grilled kangaroo, which I'm told can be wonderful, but my one experience with it nearly wore out my jaw muscles, and it didn't taste very good either. I had smoked kangaroo and braised kangaroo in gravy at a restaurant at the same resort, and both were much better. But the very best version I had was the kangaroo and pumpkin risotto with tomato-onion chutney, in the bistro of the Robe Hotel in Robe, South Australia. Exquisite, amazingly inexpensive, perfect with a glass of Barossa Valley cabernet shiraz, and just the thing to top off a cold night.

(For those readers who are vegetarian or who simply don't want to eat something that's so cute in life, you might find a suitable alternative by checking out this page and searching for Skippy. No corn was run over during the making of this product.)


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