Bear: It’s what’s for dinner

A bear on display in the camp of Dan Swiedals.

Story and photos by Katherine Larson

Your At the Table correspondent recently attended a wedding in Michigamme. From my perspective, the highlight of the wedding reception was a spectacularly delicious treat: bear meat.

Bear has its aficionados and its doubters, but I myself had never tasted it before. With one bite, I became a convert.

Intrigued, I sought to learn more. I learned that our local bears are American black bears, found in just about every state in the union, but that we are particularly lucky. Like most creatures, bears reflect what they eat. So, for example, the meat of an Alaskan black bear that feeds mostly from a salmon stream will taste quite different from the meat of a New Jersey black bear that makes a living from a garbage dump. The very tastiest bears, I learned, eat blueberries. That’s ours!

The very tastiest bears, I also learned, are prepared well and carefully. Indeed, when I consulted the bear chef—the bride’s father, Dan Swiedals—I learned that preparation is the single most important factor in producing delicious bear.

First, though, one has to get one’s bear…

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