Probability Out of 10 I Will Eat this Animal Again

After hearing this NPR story about the last horse slaughterhouse in the US closing, I thought to myself ARE there such things as horse slaughterhouses in the US? Growing up in California, certain animals seem to be OFF limits, meaning, animals included in “Save the insert animal – usually a mammal with pretty eyes – here” series. In the 80s we saw “Save the Whales”, “Save the Manatees” and “Save the Sea Turtles” to name a few. Anyone caught killing these animals were seen as individuals equally appalling to those listed on the National Sex Offender Registry.

Of course, I am not advocating the clubbing or the brutal treatment of any animal (and my diet rarely consists of animals with legs), but my eyes have been opened to just how brainwashed I was as a westerner. Take eating whale, for example, as an American, this is atrocious and barbaric – insensitivity and carelessness rated on a high scale.

Yet, after living in a country that has been eating whale for thousands upon thousands of years, it doesn’t look as reckless. Something like the headline “Japan and Iceland refuse to give up their right to eat whale,” makes the people of these two countries look like ravenous killers who indulge in unnecessarily gluttonous practices. When in fact, communities have depended on the industry of whaling for thousands of years, and if they had been oblivious to the currents, migrations and breeding patterns of the whales, they’da been gone way before America was there to school the world.

That said, this might just be my argument for feeling better about eating the following foods I would probably never get to eat in America (or announce that I did too loudly in America, especially California):

Kujira – Whale (barbequed whale-steak on a grill)
Setting: Last Saturday at a outdoor BBQ for a friend’s birthday in Shimokitazawa, brought by my Icelandic friend Arnar.

Verdict: Like a perfect combination of T-bone steak and lamb. There was definitely a gamey essence to it – perhaps an aftertaste of grass or some kind of ruffage.

Probability out of 10 I will eat this animal again: 10, the first taste sparked my interest in trying whale prepared in different ways.

Basashi – Horse sashimi (thinly sliced raw horse meat)
Setting: Town izakaya during a festival in Koenji, ordered because my friend Kishi visiting from SF, had one thing on his list of things to do in Tokyo – eat horse.

Verdict: Quite heavenly – like sashimi in 4 dimensions. Again, it gives off a gamey scent that I can’t quite pin point.

Probability out of 10 I will eat this animal again: 8, I wouldn’t order it – it’s actually quite delicious but it’s a bit intense psychologically. However, it’s probably gonna be hard to avoid given that this is pretty common most Japanese-style restaurants.

Suppon – Snapping turtle soup
Setting: Chinese restaurant in Hatagaya. I reviewed this visit here

Verdict: A bit too knuckly for my taste and the meat was extra chewy and dense. I was told it’s good for you when you get sick and I believe that.

Probability out of 10 I will eat this animal again: 3, I am not into knuckly things. I would however, happily indulge in Suppon broth.

Judging by how exciting these culinary delights were, I hope this list grows…

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