Tuesday, December 23, 2003

 
Dog Eat Dog
I don't know about you, but I won't be spending Dec. 26 returning gifts or watching bowl games or even observing Boxing Day with the Aussie, English and Canuk expats. It's Chairman Mao's 110th birthday and some of the staffers have planned a special excursion.
I was invited by Kathy, a page editor whose appearance and demeanor resembles that of an elementary school librarian. Gentle, but stern when need be. Plain and simple attire, glasses, sensible shoes and hair.
She approached me the other day and asked brightly if I'd like to go have a special dinner with some other staffers on Friday for Mao's birthday.
"Sure," I said. "What's special about it, though?"
"Oh," she said. "We are going to a special restaurant. We will take a bus. It will take maybe 40 minutes on the bus."
"Yeah, OK. But why is it 'special'?"
"The food," she said, smiling and adjusting her sensible spectacles. "We will eat special duck and also dog."
Oh.
As it happens I have eaten dog (unknowingly) before but it was about 30 years ago in Korea. It tasted fine and made up the major part of a stew or thick soup that a farmer whom a buddy and I - while tripping on LSD and exploring the Korean countryside - had helped to push a cart out of a mud hole. He treated us to the meal by way of saying thanks and when I asked using baby talk Korean and hand signs what the delicious dish had been he said: "Kae!" - which is Korean for dog.
I don't know now whether I'm up to it again, though. I'm beginning to sympathize with my vegetarian friends back in the States. Keyman and I were eating at a restaurant last week and he ordered a spicy chicken, peppers and rice dish that's wrapped in a leaf. But before it was served, a restaurant employee came to our table with a large orange plastic bucket and plunked it down on the floor for our approval.
Inside was an alert bright-eyed brown and tan chicken - our meal-to-be. It was kind of cute and I felt a brief pang of regret. I asked Keyman if we ordered beef or pork would they have led a cow or pig to our table.
He laughed and then told me that in some rural villages that is exactly what is done.
I did sign on for the Chairman Mao birthday bash by the way, but I'm undecided about dining on dog - especially if they bring one to our table.



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