September 08, 2004

Unmentionable Cuisine

From the time I acquired the cookbook (perhaps more correctly a collection of recipes and a discussion thereof) I figured that it would be interesting to post one of the recipes specifically unmentionable within our own culture. The Veegans choose to lump all animal consumption under that label, whereas most parts of the pig, cow, and some birds and fishes are perfectly mainstream in our culture but taboo in some others. The particular selection was, as mentioned, a response to stereotyping commonly encountered. The Carnival of the Recipes was the proximate trigger for getting it posted, but there was no reason to expect Beth to take on a burden I chose for myself.

Shortly after the post went up, the wee wifey and I went away for a romantic weekend. Since then I have received comments ranging from frivolous to critical, and a bit of a Baldilanche. It is past time for me to say more on the topic.

I do not believe I was engaging in moral relativism. Other people in other situations may indeed engage in behavior which would be immoral for us. Our canine, Hunter, makes her love for us so obvious (if she's been away with my son for a couple of days, she wags not just her tail but the whole back of her body when she sees me) that I would struggle to keep her fed in a survival situation. Wild dogs taken as game, or animals raised in a feed lot, whould not share such feelings. I've known bunny breeders who have run up against this, selling as pets what had originally intended for the table; one reason Emrack's ex-father-in-law was never able to launch himself as the Colonel Sanders of rabbit. Five percent of college students listed Easter pets as the reason for avoiding duck.

Other animals are avoided by some peoples for religious reasons of one sort or another. Beef is not eaten by worshippers of the Good Cowherd, Krishna, and pork is avoided by my own forebears and other people of the Book. It has been suggested that the objection to eating horseflesh has its roots in Catholic opposition to the horse worshipping-and-eating religions of northern and eastern Europe. This resistance is relatively easily overcome; during World War II there were hippophage butcher shops around the U.S. The one in Milwaukee was named for Man-of-War, a recent Derby winner.

I could go on about people who equate lobster with cockroaches, or the African tribe which executed chicken eaters, but I've had as much fun with this topic as I am up for.

Posted by triticale at September 8, 2004 11:44 PM

You'll notice I acknowledged my own ethnocentrism in my revulsion. I wasn't making a moral judgement, but a sentimental one. I admit it, and do not back away from it. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Brian B at September 10, 2004 07:09 PM
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