Sunday, April 09, 2006

How About a Nice Plate of Gopher?

Some people don’t eat meat. Others don’t even eat meat products, like eggs or cheese. I guess they have their reasons, but I’ve always been, and will remain, a carnivore.

But while I was eating a hamburger the other day, I got to thinking about the kind of animals people typically use for meat. You have your big three: pigs, cows, and chickens.

There are others, of course, like lamb. Then there’s fish, which a lot of people don’t include as meat. But most meat comes from the big three.

Hunters eat more kinds of meat. They may eat venison, which comes from deer. Or some eat rabbit and squirrel, which taste a lot like chicken. Rabbit tastes like the white meat and squirrel tastes like the dark meat.

International markets carry more kinds of meat. If you know where to look, you can also find buffalo meat and kangaroo. And there is more to seafood than fish and shrimp.

But I’m curious as to why some animals are considered fit to eat while others are not. Who makes those decisions? For example, somebody had to decide that it was perfectly okay to eat a pig, but not a horse. Why do we not eat horse?

And why is it fine for hunters to haul in their limit of squirrels and rabbits to consume, and yet it's taboo to eat such animals as raccoon or beaver?

Think about it; if it were considered proper by modern society to eat cat and dog meat, then we wouldn’t have to worry so much about strays. Don't start moaning and groaning; after all, some farm children have pigs as pets, and yet I bet they still eat pork. What's the difference?

If our taste in meat were a little broader, we wouldn't have to be confined to eating just beef, pork, and chicken. People could make a nice living raising such animals as hamsters and guinea pigs for their flesh.

But I’ve never heard anyone claim they had some nice chipmunk steaks thawing for the grill.

I, for one, would not be averse to trying some of these exotic delicacies. I have consumed such creatures as squid (calamari), snails (escargot), and French-fried caterpillars. The first two are yummy. The latter was very bitter and I don't intend to eat those little buggers again. But at least I gave them a try.

I do enjoy various types of sushi. I don’t like the octopus, though; it’s way too tough.

I guess most Americans are a little up-tight about what species of animal they put into their mouths. Maybe that is why there are so many different ways a person can eat a pig - bacon, ham, pork chops, sausage, tenderloin, pigs feet, souse, etc.

And that's another thing; if some restaurants can serve something called "hog fries," or "Rocky Mountain oysters," then what would be so bad about serving up a nice plate of gopher?

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