Two young Raccoons peeping through grass.
Raccoon Meat Is A Well-Liked Delicacy In The South
By Elaina Friedman
According to a Southern cooking tradition that dates back centuries, there's at least one surefire way to get rid of a raccoon: eat it for dinner.
Enslaved African people brought to the U.S. would trap the animals and cook them whole in stews, adding protein to the negligible meals provided to them by plantation owners.
From there, eating raccoons started becoming popular in Southern households, particularly among poor communities, around the 18th century.
In a 2020 write-up on raccoon-eating traditions, Serious Eats spoke to "Big George" Drayton, a Georgia native who shared how he grew up eating roasted raccoon with sweet potatoes.
However, the raccoon-heavy food of his youth, according to Drayton, is a dying tradition. "None of the young people know how to do that," he explained.
There's even an annual feast held in Gillett, Arkansas, where raccoon meat is soaked in salt water overnight, boiled until tender, smoked in a tank, and barbecued.
This dish is often served with rice or sweet potatoes on the side. Former President Bill Clinton has attended the event in Gillett in the past.
Thanksgiving was also once a popular time to dine on raccoon meat in the South. For some, that tradition is still very much alive.