A few weeks ago, Paul came home with a small butcher-paper wrapped chunk of elk. My stomach lurched just typing that sentence. Anyway, a friend from church had a bunch of elk meat that he was apparently trying to get rid of, or maybe just being nice, and we ended up with a small piece of it. Wild game is not my thing folks. Seriously. I have a hard time handling raw meat period. I actually have considered being a vegetarian, but I know that it just won't work for me and Paul definitely is not cool with it. I just don't like the idea of guns or hunting wild animals. To me, it is different (maybe even more inhumane, but different) when we are talking chicken or cattle raised to be served up for dinner. But elk? Shudder.
When Paul and I were first dating (well, second dating I guess - once we got back together after I came home from my mission), we went for a drive to Mona, Utah to hang out with some of his cousins. On the way down there, Paul explained that they were really cool, but I might expect to be teased a little by his cousins' dad who is a cowboy in a rural part of Utah (Tessa, I don't mean this in a bad way). So when I walked into their living room and saw a taxidermy-ed cat displayed, I tried to impress them with my knowledge of the wild by saying, "Oh, is that a cougar?" and then second-guessing myself, "Or is it a mountain lion?" There was an awkward pause and then Paul's cousins' dad said, "Er, they're the same thing." I felt like such an idiot.
Well anyway (and I promise I am getting back to the elk thing soon), we decided at one point to drive the Nebo Loop which winds up Mount Nebo with his cousin Tessa. I don't think I had explained to Paul yet that I tend to get car-sick on winding mountain drives in the dark of night on an empty stomach in the back seat of a car. It was miserable. But I couldn't say anything because I was with this super-cute guy who I really, really liked and he was showing me off to his cousins and I had already embarassed myself with the whole cougar/mountain lion debaucle, so I kept my mouth shut. Until I couldn't keep my mouth shut anymore because I had to puke.
Fortunately the car stopped in time for me to stumble out into the weeds and lose my stomach in the dark anonymity of night. But while I was hunched over heaving, there were suddenly these incredibly loud, startlingly close noises that sounded like thick sheets of metal being torn apart. So instead of just being sick and embarassed, I was also in near panic as to what sort of animal made that noise and whether it might hurt me. Paul, who to his everlasting credit had come out of the car to hold my hair back while I hurled, excitedly explained that there must be elk nearby and it was their calls that we were hearing in the dark of night.
So, back to the chunk of meat in our freezer. I have no idea how to cook elk. But Paul said it is just like a roast basically. So when he told me that I should use it to make - heaven help me, I can barely type this - chimichangas - I figured, "Well, might as well use it for something." So I tore off the thick white butcher-paper and dropped the frozen hunk of purple (yes, purple - think grape juice or dark red wine) elk into my crockpot to cook all day. And then I seriously shredded the meat, added onions, chilis, spices, and green salsa, and made it into chimichangas, served up with fresh tomatoes, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. Oh gosh, I am mortified just typing that.
When I tried to eat it, my stomach did flip-flops and I felt slightly queasy. And I swear I heard the rending metal sound of elk calls somewhere in the history of my mind.