Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gross: relative.

So in the interest of preparing yourself for this week's post, you should take a look at this article, wherein the author (British) tries to do one of those funny posts about how weird other cultures' food can be and, as frequently happens, ends up being somewhat belittling and mocking. 

Granted I'm one of those people who's willing to eat a little more broadly than some others, but just because the thought of eating some of the more adventurous bits of an animal squicks you out doesn't mean that someone else is wrong for thinking that those bits they're delicious. To be honest, what's really more unappealing when you know more about the respective food chains of the two countries: the all-American pink-in-plastic boneless, skinless chicken breast in the cooler at your local mega-mart, or cibreo, the Italian pasta sauce that combines cocks' combs, wattles, livers, and un-laid eggs?

The American dish is the tail end of a food chain that seems to strive to keep the eater from knowing what the actual process is that brought that anonymous glob of protein to her plate. The Italian dish is the product of a focus on using as much of the animal as possible, and it just seems more honest. We Americans are still eating the combs, wattles, livers, and all from the the chickens who provided the breasts. The difference is that it's being sold to us as nuggets, salad, and whatever else is the result of mechanically recovering meat.

And in the long run, WHY mechanically recover meat, anyway? Yes, there are going to be leftover bits after you've removed the breasts and the thighs and all, no matter how adept you are at carving. But that's why you make stock, right?

S'anyway. I don't think it's fair to disparage what other cultures think is delicious, even if you find it off-putting yourself. There's the whole discussion about Asian cultures where dog is a fairly common protein source, and most of us object to that. But ultimately that's arbitrary--if you ask a vegetarian, they would probably tell you that it makes no sense at all to favor one animal over another for your diet because of sentimental attachment. (And you don't have to ask a vegan in the first place, because they're going to tell you anyway.)

Does all this mean that I'm champing at the bit to try my first roasted cow eyeball? It does not. At all. We're all always going to have our culinary limits. But try to remember that gross is in the eye of the beholder, and when the conventionally-produced chicken industry on the Delmarva Peninsula creates so much guano that it's killing the Chesapeake Bay, gross really is pretty relative.

No comments:

Post a Comment