December 8, 2013

In the French food store: 5 porcupines, 15 gazelles, 20 bats, and lots of caterpillars.

The police raided the place and — as the UK Telegraph puts it — "carted off 200 lbs of bush meat belonging to the unfortunate animals stored in three freezers in the unnamed shop situated in a run-down part of Paris’ 18th arrondissement."

Unfortunate animals? This was meat, frozen meat. The animals were dead, as dead as the animals that yield all the meat that is sold in stores that are not raided by the police. The only unfortunate animals in this scenario are the human beings who might get sick if this meat is tainted in some way. It's silly — perhaps intentionally so — to refer to a caterpillar as "unfortunate."

And what's the big deal — if you're going to eat animal — with eating odd things like porcupines? It's actually quite the thing in France:
Exotic animals have been legally making their way onto French plates of late in upscale restaurants. In Montmartre — just down the road from the shop police raided - Le Festin Nu (The Naked Lunch) bistro gives customers the chance to select from a variety of insects. Specials include palm weevils with beetroot and oil of truffle; water scorpion with preserved peppers and black garlic; or grasshopper with quail’s eggs. In Nice, Michelin-starred chef David Faure offers an “Alternative Food” menu at his Aphrodite restaurant. Mealworm and crickets share the billing with pate de foie gras.

15 comments:

Bob Boyd said...

I ran into a caterpillar a couple of weeks ago that was down on its luck and having a hard time. I gave it a five and it seemed appreciative.
But I had only gone about half a block when a magpie swooped down, grabbed the caterpillar and flew off.
My five was still on the sidewalk so I went over and picked it up.
When lunchtime rolled around, I used it to buy a hamburger.

David said...

Think snails.

Oso Negro said...

I thought the French didn't care what you do as long as you pronounce it correctly.

Clyde said...

Eating insects is for cultures so feckless that they can't hunt or raise herd animals on a massive scale. It's fine if you're running around in a jungle wearing a loincloth made of leaves, I guess. Turn over a rock and there's some nice tasty protein... Well, some protein, anyway. But for anyone with access to real meat, the idea of eating insects inspires nothing so much as disgust.

john said...

They didn't mention the perdrix, still barely alive, trussed up in that pear tree.

The cruelty.

William said...

What about a porcupine's appearance would make anyone believe that it tastes good? I bet caterpillars taste better than porcupines, and that both taste far, far worse than rib eye steaks.

Ann Althouse said...

"What about a porcupine's appearance would make anyone believe that it tastes good?"

Looks like an elaborate way to say "pork"?

William said...

Gazelles look like they would taste good, but they're probably tougher than venison. Still, I wouldn't be opposed to trying a gazelle steak...... People like to equate beauty and good taste, but beauty doesn't always taste good. Lobsters and oysters taste good, but even in the marine world they're not what I would call lookers.....I wonder if butterflies taste better than caterpillars. Perhaps what they gain in beauty and mobility they lose in protein and succulence. That's probably a metaphor for something.

Fritz said...

"What about a porcupine's appearance would make anyone believe that it tastes good?"

Looks like an elaborate way to say "pork"?


Years ago in Oregon there was a bounty on porcupines in Douglas County because of their habit of stripping the bark off young trees. $5 a nose, literally. You took a porcupine nose to the courthouse and they gave you $5 cash.

When we encountered porcupines in the woods we killed them. The meat of a porcupine, is a rich red, much like beef, and makes a decent stew.

It's a quite an ordeal to gut and skin a porcupine. There's not much to hold onto when you start.

Bob said...

I posted on my own blog about my idea for the next great American snack food รก la Buffalo Wings or Chicken Fingers. It would be pork penis, which has a spiral glans (sometimes called a "corkscrew-shaped penis" by the semi-knowledgeable). Cook 'em however you like, and call 'em porkscrews. Or, alternatively, thread them on a bamboo skewer and call 'em dick on a stick. A commenter said that not even Andrew Zimmern would eat that, and my reply was that we've already been forced to swallow Obamacare, of course we'll eat it, especially if you slather it with sweet red BBQ sauce. Hence the McRib.

Carol said...

Bush meat? In Africa that means monkey. Were they selling monkey too?

Dr Weevil said...

Now I wish I'd tried harder to get to Cape Town Restaurant when I was in Berlin last week: I could have had springbok, zebra, gnu, ostrich, or crocodile. But their opening hours didn't fit with my theater-going.

I did (after seeing Titus Andronicus in German translation) have batter-fried lamb brains and chocolate covered lamb liver at Restaurant Sauvage, which claims to be the first 'Paleo' restaurant in the world. Verdict: too squishy and too liver-tasting, respectively. The pork belly was good, though, and the fizzy fruit drinks were amazing.

Chef Mojo said...

I thought the French didn't care what you do as long as you pronounce it correctly.

Indeed.

Remember, this is France, a country whose consummate delicacy is the Ortolan, a little songbird prepared to very exacting standards. There is a ceremony involved to eating it, including placing a large napkin over your head to hide you from the sight of God as you shamefully eat the Ortolan. It is illegal to prepare and consume Ortolan in France. It was Francois Mitterand's last meal.

Anthony Bourdain has a very good chapter in his book "Medium Raw" about is experience with Ortolan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ortolan_Bunting

David-2 said...

"What about a porcupine's appearance would make anyone believe that it tastes good?"

Well, evolution provided those sharp quills to a porcupine for a reason: To fight off predators.

They weren't going after the porcupine because it tasted like crap. They went after it because it tasted good.

(And, yes, because it was slow.)

ken in sc said...

Five pounds of Possum in my head lights tonight. Google it. It's a song.

We still have possums here. Armadillos have not taken over yet