France has a serious reputation for good eats. You can't deny the appeal of it's seemingly ENDLESS list of culinary classics. I would wager that even now, as I blog, some lucky frenchie is biting into their first taste of Boeuf Bourguignon, or Crème Brulée, or something else that countless chefs have mastered to perfection with the sole aim of making you simultaneously orgasm, scream, pee and pass out. (Quite the feat, non?)
And yet... every closet has a skeleton, even closets with three stars have them... tiny little bird skeletons as it turns out.
At lunch with my colleagues the other day we began what I expected would be an innocent converstation. What can go wrong among foodies? We talked about how much we enjoyed soup, and a very lovely person shared half her chocolate tart with me (again, my coworkers loooooove putting chocolate in my mouth and then scolding me for eating it as I swallow), when suddenly, for some reason I can only imagine stems from latent anger at my not joining them 'round the table more often, the conversation shifted tones.
"But eating snails is not as cruel as some other things", Frenchy McFrenchLady says.
"Really? Do you know how they're prepared?", Frenchy McFrenchman replies.
"Of course! You catch them, tear them out of their homes and let them die a slow agonizing death by watching intently as every last bit of their life's juice leaks out of their frightened shrivelling bodies. Then you throw them in a pan with some garlic sauce and it's DINNER TIME!", French McFrenchLady says.**
** not a direct quote, but should have damn well been.
At this point, I've stopped talking about movies with my neighbor to listen in to horror that ensued.
"So you know something that's worse?", McFrenchman retorts.
"Oh my stars, there's so much worse. Those are snails, no one gives a hoot about snaaaillls. They have no brains, they don't feel the pain the way the other animals do. Besides it's not like they're screaming little snail screams or something."
It should be noted that I was the only one who laughed about the snails screaming. Apparently the entire group is certain that I have no soul, or at least, zero empathy for slugs.
I'm going to have to sum up the rest because really, there were too many examples of cruelty to detail in just one blog:
- Oysters: Eaten alive actually. I'd like to see you come up with something worse.
- Chicken: Old fashioned Guillotine-like demise.
- Fois gras: Stuff the poor goose to DEATH, then eat it's gizzards... nice.
- Veal: left in a cage to rot until the reaper arrives so it stays "tender"
- Lobster: Again. Cooked LIVE. Nice people. Real nice.
.... the list goes on & on.
Most people are guilty of eating at least one of these animal atrocities, and our consciences have survived worse. But the very WORST one in my book has got to be the ex-President of France, François Mitterand. Apparently he was preparing for the visit to that big restaurant in the sky, when he realized he hadn't yet committed enough sins against animals. So he decided to get them ALL out of the way in one go!
He invited his closest friends for dinner, and planned the following malevolent menu:
- Oysters: cold-blooded live-eat, check
- Fois gras: heartless stuff-to-exploding, check
- Chapon (it's like a chicken): Guillotine, check
and, la pièce de résistance....
Ortolan is a tiny, helpless, kind-natured little bird that meets its maker in a sort-of best-of-all-deaths way. As if they couldn't decide which way was worse, so they just did all of them.
- caught live, held in captivity
- stuffed to point of death
- drowned in cognac
- rotisserie cooked
- chop off it's head once on your plate
To top it off, they get an extra special dégustation... you suck the goodies right out of the carcass. So, not only have you imprisoned, tortured, drowned and roasted your little feathered friend, you must now hide your eating behind a napkin as you slurp its insides right out of it's own neck.
Enough to make you want to be a vegetarian, non?