It’s totally understandable to be frozen in terror when faced with a charging lion, but somehow lion just doesn’t look as intimidating when it’s resting beside some garlic mashed potatoes and fresh asparagus.
Lion, bear, bison, snake and alligator: some people run away from these animals, and some people eat them. John Peris – owner of The Savory Gourmet, a wild game and cheese emporium based in Lititz – falls into the latter category. After tasting some pepper-crusted ostrich medallions in a restaurant in Watkins Glen, NY, Peris became intrigued with wild game. He saw a demand for game in Lancaster, but no outlet, so he opened his exotic meat and cheese shop in Lititz.
Many people are still a little timid when it comes to eating some of the more wild members of the animal kingdom. But don’t let primal fear stop you from trying wild game – there are lots of good reasons to give it a shot.
“In general, wild game is a lot healthier than conventional meat like beef and things like that,” says Peris.
Elk and ostrich are two of the leanest meats available, and both are high in protein and extremely low in cholesterol and fat content.
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“We have a lot of body-builders at the local gym that come in and get elk steaks when they’re pumping iron,” Peris says.
Wild game is often more flavorful than other meat. Elk is among Peris’ favorites.
“For a nice steak or burger, I like elk quite a bit,” says Peris. “It’s nice to have variety when you’re doing a cookout with friends. This gives you something different to do.”
The Savory Gourmet carries bison, python, yak, llama, camel, elk, kangaroo, scorpions and more – it’s like Noah’s Ark if Noah was planning to eat all the animals. You might think Peris needs to go on some sort of international safari to procure all the game he stocks at The Savory Gourmet, but much of it comes from Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
“My wife sits on the board of Buy Fresh – Buy Local in Lancaster, and we’re really big on that,” says Peris. “We get our rabbits from a farm right here in Lititz. Sometimes we get our ostrich from a farm in Elizabethtown. There’s a local bison farm here in Lancaster. We get some elk and venison from upstate PA.”
Some of the meat, like python and Spanish Iberico blackfoot pig, has to be imported from Vietnam and Spain. The lion came from a farm in Chicago, but state regulations now prohibit it form being sold in other states.
During the holiday season, Peris says the reindeer jerky flies off the shelves. “People freak about eating a little Rudolph on Christmas morning,” says Peris. “It’s funny, on the label there’s a picture of the sled, and there’s one reindeer missing.” Peris adds the chocolate covered ants and scorpion lollipops are also popular holiday gifts.
Warning to the entire animal kingdom: humans are at the top of the food chain, and our ovens are preheated to 400 degrees.