11/29/2010 05:34 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

On Eating Bear Meat

I finally ate bear last night, and it was good.

For some of you, the fact that bear can be good eating is no great surprise: The hunting and eating of bears has been going on since long before we out-competed the horrific (and thankfully extinct) cave bear for the best places to shelter ourselves from the rigors of the Ice Age. Bear hunting has been part of American life since we arrived in the 17th century, and roast bear was on the menu for more than a few state dinners during our nation's youth.

Bear regularly made its way to market before the sale of wild game was outlawed in the early 1900s, and it retained a place in the American palate right through the late 1950s. One of the best-selling cookbooks of all time, Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking (first written in 1947) includes a section on bear with helpful butchering tips, such as how to remove the scent glands behind the animal's hind legs.

Read more on Hank Shaw at the Atlantic