Fun Stuff > Food
"Chewing gum is sticking on the left hoof, the right one drags a little something from woof-woof -
Der linke Schuh ist schwerer wegen dem Kautschi, am rechten pickt ein wenig was vom Wauwautschi."
("Bau keinen Mist - Don't make a mess", Kurt Ostbahn, 2008)
Dogs... are Men's best Friends
...and dogs' best friends are trees! Searching for a baby bath in a supermarket, I ended up finding baby stuff right next to pet food. Which in one way or another represents the train of thoughts these days. While population is declining, animal shelters are overcrowded and movies such as "Hotel for Dogs" demonstrate how to spoil the beloved ones and guarantee amusement. Some people have a strong emotional binding to their pets, even over kids. I don't. Below article is about cruelty to animals, such as keeping them in the city in flats without garden, without the possibility of enough exercise according to their nature. And it is about the consumption of certain animal species in the Far East, a tradition which - believe it or not - was also common in these climes. Enclosed are more or less humorous reflections and observations.
About Dog Owners and their Droppings
This one is about pollution in the packed city and a lack of responsibility in a society, where pets are being favoured over kids. Replaceable pet-hood over misplaced childhood, increasing wealth and forgetting how to forgo. Besides, cats, dogs & co. don't talk back, even if unnaturally held in apartments without garden. Yes, your eyes didn't betray you. Guess what, there is even a statement on such trivial things as dog droppings. Inspiring the one to speak of the Golden Luck and directly identify it with the big city in the heart of Europe. And the other to sing a boogie about dancing between the easily forgotten emission, belonging to the originator in the same way as to his master. Above is a my son's drawing of a little boy screaming "No and no!!!" after stepping into leftovers on the sidewalk. A Viennese initiative to keep the sidewalks clean of dog dropping was run under the motto: "Nimm ein Sackerl fuer mein Gackerl - Take a baggy for my poopy." Or following a friend's advice for the keeping the own garden clean: "Nimm ein Schauferl fuer mein Hauferl - Be a trooper, use a pooper scooper!" The related campaign by the local authorities proved widely ineffective, and so sporadically patrolling "waste watchers" (not weight) were to follow after the motto "Cleanliness Needs Control," just as power does. Kurt Ostbahn's 2008 song "Bau keinen Mist - Don't make a mess," played at the end of local radio spots, would include the legendary line: "Chewing gum is sticking on the left hoof, the right one drags a little something from woof-woof." But who knows, maybe even more identification and understanding will be raised as part of this more humorous observation?
Dog Waste Campaigns in Cadillac, Michigan, and friendly Vienna, Austria: "Take a baggy for my poopy." Where would you stop littering, really?
About Dog Lovers and their Toppings
Thinking of the Pizza Hut favourites "Cheese Lovers" and "Meat Lovers" was inspiration to above heading. Elsewhere I have been talking about how much people like dogs over kids, how carelessly dog owners leave their dog waste on pedestrian walks and grass strips alongside the road. Loving your pet over everything is not wrong, it is just a matter of how respectful you treat your more and more polluted environment and what you leave behind for others. In our younger years a friend used to call dogs "goulash" by nickname, just to be funny. Almost an insultation for the delicious paprika flavoured Hungarian meat dish and not generally welcomed by pet owners either. Which reminds me of that old German saying: "Ich habe Dich zum fressen gern - I would gladly devour you" ...as maybe influenced by the big bad wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. Speaking of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood (in German: Rotkaeppchen) by the Brothers Grimm, there is a Chinese equivalent called "Lon Po Po." "Lon" (or "Lan") means wolf and "Popo" (German for bottom, often just referred to as the 4 letters you sit on) is Mandarin for Grandmother! While the big bad wolf remains rather unpopular, there are many dog lovers, some even find them very delicious.
During Korean Summers
Coming up in a conversation with a Korean colleague, dog meat is eaten on the hottest days of summer in Korea during Sambok. The same should not to be confused with Sambuca, the favourite Italian drink of another colleague from the UK, preferring a good conversation over the brand 'Molinari Extra'. Yet when we tasted flamed Sambuca with a Russian colleague, the upper edge of my glass melted off like a ring, before we picked up the drinking straw to conclude the unusual but peaceful pyrotechnic drinking procedure. Anyway, back to the topic Korea, where based on the Lunar Calendar, the Sambok season is marked by the three dog days Chobok, Jungbok and Malbok. The idea behind eating soup in summer is to fight heat with heat, while dog meat is said to provide stamina, energy and potency. Many Koreans prefer eating chicken soup (samgyetang) over dog soup (bosintang) on those hot days now, while eating dog meat (gaegogi) can also be perceived lower class. Habits occasionally heard of, like beating a dog to death in order to make the meat tender is simply unnecessary cruelty. Over here we also don't tendernize the Schnitzel with the meat hammer, while it is still hanging on the alive pig or cow. Unforgettable is the story of a Korean colleague standing in front of an American colleague's PC wallpaper with a picture of her dog. After staring at it for quite a while, he would just comment: "Yum-yum!"
In Chinese Winters
In China it is the opposite, dog meat is popular in winter time, as it is said to keep people warm. Supposed to help blood circulation, it is believed to increase the positive energy of the body, the Yang (as in the Ying-Yang balance among opposing, but complementary forces). While you can buy dog meat on regular meat markets, it is usually not cheaper than other meat choices, priced somewhere above beef and chicken, and more popular with the older generation. "I Wish That I Had Duck Feet" used to be one of my kids' favourite books, or was it called: "I Wish That I Ate Dog Meat?" Eating some at Yang Guang Can Ting, the Sunny Fragrant Meat Restaurant in Guangzhou, dog meat had an aftertaste to me, a little like lamb. Slightly smelly when cooked, I must admit that I didn't eat much. Reactions from friends included "Woa, that's one recipe I won't be asking for" and "Yuck, better you than me!" Supposedly good for the kidneys, dog meat is said to make you strong, especially men. Chinese superstition has it that pregnant women should not eat snake, so that the baby doesn't get snake-skin disease (also known as shingles or fish-scale disease), an illness in which the skin becomes flaky and peels off. Similarly, expectant mothers are not supposed to eat crab, (not only that they don't break the chopsticks, as happening to me once when trying to eat crab with them, but) so that the baby's character will not be cranky, crabby and quarrelsome.
Warm welcome to Guangzhou with a Snake Dinner, eating "she" at Shunfeng Restaurant.
Fighting for Animal Rights
During the 2008 Olympics, media coverage included an article on "The other side of the medal," describing the cruel fate of cats and dogs, as fought by the organization Animals Asia: "Millions and millions of dogs and cats are brutally and barbarically caught, caged and butchered. Lead from the misbelief that the torturing improves the taste (and potency of the consumer). The screams of abused animals in China are etched forever in your mind..." Just as it took some time over here to promote free range breeding of chicken over too tight caging, it feels important to address and improve such conditions around raising any kind of animal to sell as food. It is good to support products that are not unneccessarily tested on animals, better than testing directly on human beings though. Following the advice of well-proportioned models on billboards "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur," we shouldn't buy fur coats. The organization behind the campaign is called PETA, which doesn't stand for "People Eating Tasty Animals," as suggested by some t-shirt prints. Of course, fleece fur imitates can be recommended without hesitation, on second thought even those can lead to misunderstanding and need for occasional clarification: "Das ist ein Webpelz - That is a weave fur." Which may be followed by that strange look, almost saying: "Web, ein komisches Tier - Weave, what a strange animal!" It is absurd though that some leftist animal-rights activists have no problem with abortion, the killing of unborn human babies. Which only mirrors the focus of a society, where pets more and more achieve a higher standing than children. Just visit one of those exclusive dog parlours, offering a service range from professional grooming up to expensive dog meals (meaning food for dogs in this case).
Accepting the Cultural Difference
We should not forget that the consumption of dogs was quite common in central Europe up to the early 20th century. And so it can be regarded rather as a cultural difference than cruelty that in some Asian countries dogs are still on the menu. Another question is the strict separation among raising meat dogs and pet dogs, just as there are milk cows and beef cows. Usually, like the Molosser race, big black dogs - almost like calfs, these animals are separately raised to eat rather than munching any overbred pet dog. The consumption of dog meat is prohibited in some areas like Hong Kong, where during winter time you could discover other specialities such as Dragon, Tiger and Phoenix soup, made of snake, cat and chicken meat, called "long hu feng tang" (Mand.) resp. "long fu feng tong" (Cant.). A decent chicken leg or "Hendlhaxen," as it is commonly call in German, can be a culinary delight. Americans drive their preference for Buffalo wings as far as serving boneless (fake-) chicken wings. Some may be surprised by the Chinese chicken fingers called "ji zua" (Mand.) or "gay jiao" (Cant.), assembling not quite the thigh or "Keule" (German), but everything downwards including feet and toes. The chicken leg would be "ji tui" (Mand.) resp. "gay bei" (Cant.). Anyway, in German some refer to their stomach as Chicken Cemetery ("Hendlfriedhof") and there is no reason why it wouldn't be a good last rest for dogs as well.
Local Eating Habits
No one over here hesitates to consume pork either, which is regarded unclean in other religions. We even eat Blood Sausage made of pig blood and bread crums (in some areas with rice), which the British call Black Pudding, in German "Blutwurst" or short "Blunzn." "Das is mir voellig blunzn - That is totally blood sausage to me" is a colloquial expression in Austria (not Australia) for "I couldn't care less." But going to an Australian restaurant behind the Vienna Opera, we would usually have a Mixed Grill consisting of ostrich, alligator and kangaroo steaks, decorated with one or two grasshoppers. A good horse meat steak I had had in Switzerland, or the hashed foal meat in Slovenia, while Horse-Livercheese is quite popular here. Which is in fact a kind of bologna-sausage or spam, usually made of pork, in Austria called "Leberkaese" and in Switzerland "Fleischkaese." Eaten in a roll, the "Leberkaessemmel" assembles something like the ancestral Austrian Hamburger and a tasty alternative to the "Schnitzelsemmel" or Snitsel-Burger. Although the original Hungarian Pick Salami is made of pork, also Salami-sausage used to consist of horse meat. Which was cheaper in the old days when there were more horses around than cars. Also in Italy "cavallo" or horse meat can be found. In the area of Vicenza near Venice even cats used to be served. Locals would be called "mangiagatti - cat eaters". When you order a rabbit in this area, you better ask to see the head, just to make sure. Italians are occasionally referred to as "Katzlmacher - cat makers" in Austrian-German language. Which in reality refers to the craft of wood carving in Northern Italy, famous for its hand-carved Madonnas as well as for making wooden dipper spoons, in the old days called "Gatzel". Ultimately, Hot Dogs are very common, named after the Wiener sausages' similarity to the distinctive body shape of a Dachshund ("Dackel") rather than the kind of meat they contain. Just like there is no "Dog Lovers" pizza yet.
Farewell from China with Dog Meat called "gou rou" at Sunny "Yang Guang Can Ting" Restaurant.
On the next page you will find more about Hot Dogs and other Wieners.