ELLERBE — Bill Faust was impressed by the dishes served up Tuesday evening for the 21st annual Wild Foods Cook-off.
Faust, of Warsaw in Duplin County, is somewhat of an expert. He’s a national wild foods judge and has been attending tastings for 50 years.
He said the Ellerbe event is “one of the better wild food tastings you’ll ever go to.”
“It’s just unreal you can make so many things out of something wild,” Faust said.
The event, held at the Sandhills Rod and Gun Club, featured fares of fowl, dishes of deer, recipes with rodent and dandelion desserts.
In all, there were 29 entries, including five from youth,with 17 in the meats category, seven in the vegetables or fruit category and five desserts.
Susan Morgan, of Hoffman, said that was the most entries in the past several years.
Incidentally, Morgan won the vegetable/fruit competition with her blackberry jam.
Carolyn Quinn, of Magnolia, topped the dessert category with homemade maple walnut ice cream. Although she lives in Duplin County, Quinn has been participating in the Ellerbe cook-off for more than a decade.
Stewart Davis and Blake Hall, both of Ellerbe, took first in the meat category and best overall with their duck fajitas.
Other samplings included venison lasagna, wild turkey thighs, wild hog sausage balls, beaver pasta, striper tacos and persimmon pudding.
Kids participating were: Cameron Miles of Rockingham (deer roast); Zander McSwain of Rockingham (wild pepper grass); Ella Shelly of Hamlet (dandelion cookies); Leah Buchan of Jackson Springs (venison cheese dip); and Rhett Shelly of Hamlet (venison jerky).
While the votes were being tallied, Daniel Alexi, of nearby Town Creek Indian Mound, talked about some of the animals — based on bones found at the site — and plants eaten by earlier civilizations in the area.