Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hanoi Thit Chó

We have long dreaded this day.

The photograph looks innocent enough: a dusty street near Hanoi, a bicyclist and a pedestrian going about their business. It's a bucolic scene. Tranquil, you might say. Even so, it is a scene fraught with apprehension.

The key is the billboard emblazoned Thit Chó Quay.

Admittedly, our Vietnamese is rusty, but we feel the icy clutch of horror on our heart.

And look! Speaking of rusty, there he is: Rusty, a valiant golden retriever.

Thit chó, you see, is dog meat. That means Rusty is not so much a dog, full of his own emotions and hopes, but a shaggy hunk of meat.

It is not mere sentiment that elevates this into the realm of the obscene. Yes, pigs are every bit as intelligent as dogs. Cows want to live, to nurse their babies, just as any mammal does. Chickens can be companionable creatures. But dogs! How many of us have shared a home—a life—with a dog!

How many of us still cherish memories of a favorite dog from our youth? How many still grieve for a beloved dog who died unable to understand the many shades of our last good-bye? Do you still remember—even now, these many years later—your childhood dog’s funny or charming or endearing ways? We do! Yes, we do!

And we grew up with dogs, we humans. Not just us—you, we, that man there. We humans shared our homes with dogs when our homes were the rudest huts and the dogs still smelled of wolves. Ours is a love that has survived the millennia! We care for them and they care for us: We provide them a surrogate family, and they pledge themselves to that family's protection.

To see a dog’s trust and fidelity—his very birthright!—squandered and corrupted… The soul falters. A symbol of friendship and constancy, now mocked and degraded! That this dog smiles, proud to become thit chó, dog meat in the streets of Hanoi, is beyond the grotesque sideshow of suicidefoodism’s everyday carnival.

(Thanks to Dr. Johnny for the referral and the photo.)

Addendum: The only one of our labels we can assign to this is "3 nooses." That's it. Apart from the putridity of what it conveys, this belongs in a class by itself. It is a map to an undiscovered, tainted land.


Desdemona said...

UGH. This post made me want to throw up and cry, at the same time.

erak said...

I would totally eat dog given the opportunity, but would Golden Retriever be a good breed to dine on? Seems a little too lean for me. Give me something small, plump and (previously) yappy.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, erac, that comment is just SO funny and original. How clever of you! (That was sarcasm, in case you're too dumb to recogniize it.)

Cavall de Quer said...

Actually, the chosen breed for dog meat turned out to be St. Bernards - (as discussed at the ISAZ conference in Barcelona). Apparently the Swiss who had sent over the prize breeding specimens requested were horrified when they discovered what they were for - but of course, that didn't stop them eating everything else that moves, or pushing milk products all over the world, either. Omnivores are funny things. (Although I have to admit, it's getting ever harder to see the laughable side).
Live for ever, Suicide Food.

Hugh said...

In Korea, it is felt that the meat is best prepared through agitation. Before slaughtering the animal, it is tethered and beaten to increase its adrenaline. This is believed to enhance the flavor of the meat.

Meat is meat, if you eat it.

Tạ Hương said...

This reminds me of the No Dog Meat campaign around World Cup 2002 Japan-Korea.

Desdemona said...

I agree that meat is meat, which is why I don't eat animals or their secretions, by-products, etc.; the visceral distaste (excuse the expression) many westerners feel at the idea of eating a dog is a symptom of cultural relativism, pure and simple. That said, all the cool logic and reason in the world cannot compete with that visceral reaction; if people could be made to recognize that all animals are essentially just like their beloved furry companions, with just as strong an imperative to stay alive as long as possible, we'd be living in a saner, more compassionate world. (And for those of you who feel compelled to make remarks about how you're getting a boner at the idea of eating Man's Best Friend: what exactly do you hope to achieve with such comments? I mean, other than taking advantage of the opportunity to look like a sophomoric, attention-seeking asshole in a public forum? Just curious.)

Anonymous said...

Sheesh. Didn't know suicidefood blog was speciesist. You have officially jumped the shark.

Luella said...

This article will be good food for any "dog-lovers" I come across.