30, 2001: First loss of life in our living room
It is difficult to fully appreciate how many things we hold as common sense and obvious behavior until these concepts are questioned. For example, take the clear line we draw between cherished domestic pets and agricultural livestock. What is the difference? It can be hard to quantify in words, but we don't have too much trouble in choosing whether or not we can eat Mr Ed.
There was no thought, therefore, that any explanation would be necessary to prevent scott, our house mascot, from being fried up and served with spicy sauce. But that is what tonkatsu is, and that how the people of nagoya eat pork. They are called 'zippies' after nagoya's popular foreign radio station with the call letters zip-fm. Zip-fm's motto: "we send youthful and active sound waves 24 hours a day". Zippie also describes how quickly scott went from youthful and active, happy little housemate to a tough and stringy, sweet and spicy japanese dish.
Tat, on further questioning, revealed he had never heard of miniature pot bellies, or even the idea of pigs being kept as pets. He also explained he was very hungry and that the lack of grocery stores on the island left little recourse. He thought scott was an effort in animal husbandry.
Our shelves were rather empty, although we did point out to him a cache of both rice-a-roni in various flavors and ready-to-eat pork-and-beans. Tootit has never tried either, and has experienced difficulty in following english food preparation instructions before. Additionally, we were both too tired to cook ourselves, and the sorry trauma of losing scott left us famished.
So, after a brief but respectful memorial service for scott, we sat down to try tonaktsu before it got any colder. It was comforting in a way that the trusty little friend did not die in vain, but gave his life so others need not go hungry.
Over dinner, we shared stories from childhood of animal friends that ended up dead. I recalled one story about my aunt's turkey, who was bigger than me at the time, and we ate him. I think there were several occasions in the laura ingalls wilder books where they ate their pets, although it was more like they were friends with all their animals, and country people eat real animals, not the faceless kind that come in neat packages of white foam and plastic wrap at safeway.
As small as they are, pot bellied pigs like our friend scott have a lot of meat on them. I can't recommend them as a source of food, as they are tough and coarse and strangely enough gamey tasting. It is also rather extravagant to eat a $300 animal in two sittings (there were leftovers), especially for three young guys who don't know what to make of all the meat in the tough to chop off places. We didn't have any gear to make sausage, and, as they say, when you see it being made, you don't want to eat it.
We were also afraid to feed it to the fish and risk starting a whole new mad cow disease-like pestilence upon the tropical fish market. So the remains of scott were buried in a foggy, late night ceremony in-between the concord grapevine that got planted last spring and the string beans that haven't yet produced any pods. Maybe scott's remaining proteins and nitrates can be reused to generate more life of a flora variety.
to my friend scott: june 2000 - january 2001. Thanks buddy.
Memorial donations for scott can be sent to the following animal sanctuary groups. Please do not mention to them that we actually ate scott.
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