Gourmet Fair

Cry Wolf

The European Wolf, Canis lupus. Taxidermy and Photo by Engel. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Wild Wolves, werewolves, the Ancient Wolf Cult, men hunting with wolves. Howling wolves. The story of the pack. Wolves have been with humankind through the ages, inhabiting our imaginations and for some our realities. Man has always had somewhat of an ambiguous relationship with the wolf, one of admiration and fear and loathing. An exhibition is currently being played out in the small town of Elbeuf-sur-Seine in Normandy in western France devoted to this mythical and very real animal. Entitled The Story of Wolves: Portrait, Myths and Symbols, it paints the portrait of this canine and showcases its representations through various approaches including biology, literature, paleontology, history, art and mythology. The wolf slowly faded away from Western European landscapes and is now making a controversial return, although its importance to the eco-system remains undeniable by helping to keep deer and elk population in check for example and subsequently increasing the populations of countless species by keeping the role of predator and prey in balance.

The Wolf of Agubbio by Luc-Olivier Merson represents a scene inspired by the legend of Saint Francis of Assisi and the wolf of Gubbio in Italy which terrified the village of the same name until Saint Francis tamed it. Oil on canvas. From the collections of the Palais des Beaux-Arts of Lille. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The show brings together a host of fossils, taxidermied specimens, objects, art works and documents enabling the visitor to discover the various ways the animal has been represented through the ages from Paleolithic and Neolithic times to the present. The show takes a look at the evolution of the wolf and it importance in the food chain. Wolves live throughout the northern hemisphere although it is found in the southern hemisphere as well as the African wild dog, the maned wolf of South America and the dingo in Australia. They live in packs with a clearly defined hierarchy with an Alpha female and an Alpha make at the head who reproduce. The Beta wolves nourish the wolf pups although the entire pack participated in the raising of the young.

A taxidermied dingo from Australia. Canis lupus dingo is regarded by most experts to be a subspecies of wolf although some consider it to be its own species. From the collections of the Musée des Confluences- Lyon. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Wolves are regarded as one of the most highly social of all carnivores and they are very vocal. They howl, bark, whimper and growl. Barking is used as a warning as is growling while whimpering is an indication that a mother uses to indicate that she will nurse her young. Howling is used for long distance and is used to locate one another althgout some observer think it might possibly be just to have fun. The wolf will hunt small game alone but large game in packs.

An African wild dog. Lycaon pictus. In mythology Lycaon was the king of Arcadia and transformed into a wolf by Jupiter/Zeus. From the collections of the Musée des Confluences- Lyon. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Paintings of wolves are found in some of Europe’s most celebrated caves like the Lascaux and Cosquer caves. The exhibition also delves into the wolf’s role in metamorphosis through various depictions of werewolves. The show is being held at La Fabrique des Savoirs until October 24th.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette

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