Squab = Pigeon
I always wondered: are squab just giant pigeons? Turns out, yes. Yes, they are.
But, Holy Action Bronson, Fuck They’re Delicious! There are two other very redeeming thing about these birds. They’re urban cousins are so unseemly, so we’re grasping. Anyway, number one — Philip Paine. That man is a great reasons to spend a day in pigeon coops. Because that man is a craftsman. No one in our great state(s)raises these birds as meticulously than he. Over 30 years ago he decided he wanted to raise squab, so he bought a half-dozen in a Safeway parking lot and has been breeding off of that original stock since. Mind-bending. Among his early clients, there was a chef named Alice Waters, which sure did make things easier on Mr. Paine.
He is an adorable man, still proudly showing his notes from the years. It’s in a blue pocket-sized handbook where all sorts of hardly distinguishable charts and cursive sparsely populate the page. The more years that pass, the shorter the notes. It’s charming to watch. In his world, he is a holding the keys to the castle and that makes me love his world so much.
Then there’s the second redeeming bit, which is that these squab are mates for life. In their little coops, they have partners. There’s even a little den for the young and single, lookin’ to mingle crowd. It is the noisiest cage. Each of the parents both take turns eliminating their digested whatnots down the beaks of their babies for food. They both also sit on the nest. In addition to their impossible deliciousness, they take the cake for progressive, domesticated, domesticated birds.
Don’t let any of that distract you from the vital lesson here: know the origins of your food. Tuesday at Paine Farm in Sonoma, Friday Paine Farm at Cotogna.