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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Crow Meat Comes Back -- Boosts Sexual Potency?

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June 9, 2009—In Lithuania, eating crow isn't an exercise in public humiliation, as the English idiom suggests. Here, crow is literally eaten, and says one connoisseur, "it increases sexual potency."

© 2009 National Geographic (AP)

Unedited Transcript

Despite their intelligence and function as scavengers, crows are rarely popular birds.

The large black birds with a noisy squawk have traditionally held the role of evil-doer or thief in fable and fairy-tales.

In Lithuania, crow has been part of a traditional diet throughout the centuriesmostly eaten during times of hardship.

The meal of crow remained widespread in Lithuania into the 20th Century but almost died out during Soviet occupation. Now it is making a comeback.

SOUNDBITE (Lithuanian) Andrius Gudzinskas, Hunter: "We are hunting young crows because we need them for our feast, which is a century-old tradition. I support this tradition and will keep doing it (shooting crows). The birds are not bad - they do good but they also do harm. Their number can only be regulated by hunting."

Hunts for the black colored birds, which has several species nearly world-wide, last several days, and involve driving hundreds of kilometers in search of crow flocks.

Back home, the birds are plucked and then the crow meat is prepared in cooking oil at a high temperature and served with vegetables.

SOUNDBITE (Lithuanian) Vanda Mikalauskiene, Cook: "We boil it for about an hour because it's game meat and it's tough. Usually a chicken is boiled for 15-20 minutes but this is a wild bird."

The hunters claim the younger birds are better. Here they are considered delicacies, said by some to taste like quail.

SOUNDBITE (Lithuanian) Dalia Keriene, Kalnaberze Resident: "This is a great dish, crow meat is very tasty and good for men because it increases sexual potency. Try it and you'll see."

With its reputation as a scavenger, which includes dining from piles of garbage, some fear disease from eating crow. But a local medic explains that after being cooked at the right temperature the crow meat is absolutely safe to eat.

SOUNDBITE (Lithuanian) Kristina Mikolaitiene, Medic: "Crows are cooked in boiling oil with a temperature of 190 degrees Celsius so that all bacteria die and there is no danger for health."

In the village of Kalnaberze, residents gathered for a recent feast to devour the crow meat.

SOUNDBITE (Lithuanian) Jorune Liutkiene, Kalnaberze Resident: "I've been taking part in this feast for three years. I like it. When tried it for the first time I was a little bit scared but then I understood that it's tasty."

While eating crow is an English idiom that might refer to admission of a humiliating mistake, in Lithuania, it could be part of a re-emerging tradition.