This post is inspired by Peggy
who introduced me to Temple Grandin
who introduced me to Temple Grandin
and the [somewhat oxymoronic] phrase
and by something Pamela brought up in her comment on the whales and sharks post -
"...And I also recognize that it's human (and very Western) to be horrified that Asians slaughter sharks for their fins while ignoring the chickens, turkeys, and cattle we raise and kill in huge feedlots ..."
I've eaten some things in my life that I'm not proud of. Foie gras, shark fin soup, caviar, turtle eggs and drunken prawns are the ones I most regret.
I've also had the opportunity to try meats that are perhaps not so commonly found on the home dinner plate [at least here in suburban Sydney] including wild boar, buffalo, goat, kangaroo, frog, crocodile, snake, reindeer and bat. I've had bunny stifado in Greece, balut in the Philippines, piranha soup in the Amazon and escargo in San Fran. Of all of these, the snails were the hardest for me to swallow.
I personally wouldn't be able to eat horse, dog, cat, whale, insects, turtles or witchetty grubs [to name a few] but those are just my sensibilities. I don't ever want to be judgemental about people who do eat them and cultural preferences in diet. One man's hákarl is another man's meat pie.
What I am concerned about is how we manage, kill, cook or eat animals and in some cases, these can be pretty horrific.
I believe cruelty in preparing animals for our table has been going on a long time, knows no geographical boundaries, and will likely continue till the end of days.
Here's an excerpt from an interview with Heston Blumenthal, talking about some [alleged] historical recipes.
"In another example, the French would pluck a live chicken, brush the skin with saffron, wheat germ and drippings, then put the head under the belly, and rock the chicken to sleep. The live chicken was then placed on a platter with two cooked chickens, carried to the table and the cooked chickens carved as the live one ran wildly around – theater on the table.
The most disturbing recipe I've ever seen is for "how to roast a goose alive" from The Cook's Oracle from the late 1800s. It's written almost in biblical style, and it's really disturbing. The idea is that you've cooked the goose’s skin but the vital organs are still working, and you carve the goose while it can still scream."
Here's the full recipe and it's not for the faint-hearted.
Take a goose, or a duck, or some such lively creature (but a goose is best of all for such purpose), pull off all her feathers, only the head and neck must be spared, then make a fire round about her, not too close to her, that the smoke do not choke her, and that the fire may not burn her too soon; nor too far off, that she may not escape fire: within the circle of the fire let there be set small cups and pots full of water wherein salt and honey are mingled, and let there be set also chargers full of sodden apples, cut into small pieces in the dish. The goose must be all larded and basted over with butter, to make her the more fit to be eaten, and may roast the better: put then fire about her, but do not make too much haste, when you see her beginning to roast; for by walking about, and flying here and there, being cooped in by the fire that stops her way out, the unwearied goose is kept in; she will fall to drink the water to quench her thirst, and cool her heart, and all her body, and the apple-sauce will make her dung, and cleanse and empty her. And when she roasteth, and consumes inwardly, always wet her head and heart with a wet sponge; and when you see her giddy with running, and begin to stumble, her heart wants moisture, and she is roasted enough. Take her up, set her before your guests, and she will cry as you cut off any part from her, and will be almost eaten up before she be dead. It is mighty pleasant to behold!!!
The eating of animals that aren't dead is something that happens every day in the wild and in our backyard. It's the food chain at work. Unlike The Other Half, I don't bleat and switch channels when I see lions on Discovery, tearing into a wildebeest whose legs are still twitching.
The eating of live animals was a staple "attraction" on Fear Factor, [and if I remember correctly] early seasons of Survivor and some episodes of that show with the man who teaches us how to survive alone in the wild while being trailed by a production crew.
My 2 cents on this is that eating live animals for entertainment is not cool, even if they're at the bottom of the food chain, are slimy and disgusting, and have [apparently] been scientifically proven to feel no pain.
I had an exhausting day yesterday, googling ways in which we humans eat and prepare food for our table. Some of these methods were entirely new to me. I was going to include links, pictures and videos here, but I don't think I want to any more.
Maybe I am a bleeding heart after all.
Years ago, when The Other Half was regularly diving, I saw a video on a dive club night about some villagers in Flores, Indonesia who still use traditional methods of harvesting whales for food. They are exempted from the international ban on whaling.
I found a video of a hunt on youtube to share here. It's in Indonesian so you might not understand it, but the footage is worth seeing. CLICK HERE if you want to read about it first [might be helpful to get some background]. Disturbingly, it seems to have become an item on the tourist itinerary.
Watch with an open mind. Don't watch if you're squeamish.
No questions today, but I'd love to know what you're thinking.