A flightless bird seems a bit of an oxymoron. The dodo was a flightless bird, one that is no longer around to tell whatever tales it might have known. The emu, on the other leg, is not only still around, but it has immigrated and is now being farmed right here in Connecticut. It is a first cousin of the ostrich and a potential shirttail cousin of Jim Henson’s Big Bird.
The emu is the second largest bird on record. Its leathery legs end in dangerously sharp toenails, which it uses to fight. These curious creatures have particularly sharp eyesight and extraordinarily keen hearing. With such natural gifts, it is strange that the emu is a cat-napper, rarely sleeping more than twenty minutes at a stretch. While this odd bird is not partial to being near water, it is an excellent swimmer.
Emu is being rediscovered as a food with many advantages. It is a lean source of protein with half the fat and a third of the calories of beef. It contains less natural sodium than most other red meat though it has high iron and vitamin C levels. Not only does it contain lower cholesterol than other red meats, but there have been studies that claim it is an active agent in lowering cholesterol levels. Chefs recommend cooking it hot and fast or treating it as you would venison. Many say it tastes like beef, though some declare it sweeter. I can only say that it is delicious.
The value of the emu does not end at the table. Makers of very high-end beauty products are using emu fat in their products and contend that it contains anti-aging properties. Other creams are for the treatment of joint and muscle pain. Emu fat is used to treat radiation burns, insect bites, psoriasis, frostbite and athlete’s foot. Emu feathers are equally valuable. BMW so prizes the ability of emu feathers to attract and remove even the tiniest particle of dust from their automobiles prior to the last coat of paint that they farm their own emus in Germany to provide themselves with their duster of choice. It’s a good thing this bird didn’t follow the dodo into extinction.
All well and good, but for me the taste says everything necessary. Soon I hope to point you to the web site for multiple recipes. For now, we offer up Emu Stuffed Kabocha Squash. I’m looking forward to trying a burger next and then perhaps a roast.