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Monday, Mar 30, 2015

It’s a cultural thing

BY SUE QUIGLEY, International Perspective

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“Take one baby camel and cut into bite-size pieces — this will take about 2 weeks. Season to taste and add 20 gallons of broth to cover. Simmer gently for about a week.”

This is what a Mali family did with a baby camel presented Feb. 2 this year to French President Francois Hollande. The family was entrusted to temporarily take care of Hollande’s gift from the people of Mali until the necessary paperwork was completed to transport the poor beast to France, but … they got hungry.

You might turn your nose up at eating the traditional Saharan tajine stew but it’s no different to eating dogs, horses, goats or snakes.

It’s a cultural thing.

Anyone for barbecued horse leg or steamed doggie paws?

Most Americans regularly eat beef, chicken, possums, rabbits, pigs, deer, wild boar — but are repulsed by the notion of eating horses or dogs! They are considered companions, pets — not the entree at the local restaurant. Besides, we are so spoiled for food, I don’t think we would ever get hungry enough to consider eating unusual meat items.

I’ve eaten horse, buffalo, ox tongue, liver, hearts, snails, foie gras, goat, crocodile, kangaroo, ostrich, deer, lamb, hare, rabbit, guinea pig, snake, turtle, frogs and a variety of insects during my travels overseas.

Very tasty. And some of these exotic meats have less fat and more protein than beef.

Should I stop eating chicken or goat because some people keep them as pets? No. And if I was hungry enough, I would have no hesitation devouring an adorable and very intelligent piglet — just like the one in the film “Babe.”

Little Babe would be delicious. Seasoned and wrapped in palm leaves and roasted underground for several hours. Yummy!

Pigs are said to be smarter than dogs yet we raise them for food by the millions. We eat what is available to survive and dogs and horses, although handsome companions, are not off the food list if it comes down to survival.

Consider this: What do some cultures think of us in the West — euthanizing hundreds of stray dogs daily. To them that is a waste of food.

In India, the slaughter of cattle is prohibited and their meat is considered taboo.

Horsemeat was the prime source of protein worldwide long before cattle were domesticated and raised for food.

Who are we to judge the traditions and cultures of another culture?

Meat is what it is. Sustenance.

Sue Quigley is a former editor of Hernando Today and lives in Spring Hill. She can be contacted at

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