For the Fourth of July weekend I'm pasting in excerpts from a previous column that, like much of my work on the Net, has been depublished. It's meant as an aid to menus for Independence day. (Or every dog has its day.)
From "Running Chicken":
Does "free range" chicken sometimes make you wonder where they get all those little cowboys on rabbits to round them up? Then there's the Chinese solution. They have, I'm told, genetically engineered a chicken with a body like a cube-- with one feather, no wings, a head and feet. It's about a half an inch wide and can be raised in bureau drawers and teacups. It'll eat anything, and when fully grown (which may take up to a week depending on which steroids one employs), it's easy to dress. Chop, chop, pull one feather and voila! There you have it-- a chicken cube, or 'nugget' as Americans prefer to call them. So if you order orange chicken at a Chinese restaurant and you find yourself looking at small cubes united by a lot of batter, at least you'll know it's genuine Chinese chicken, not the herded variety now popular with yuppies.
I did eat rabbit recently and I want to say, unequivocally, that it does not taste like chicken. The meat was longer and stringier, and there was a hint of sage and grass in it, some reminder of a sunny meadow from its past life. I really like rabbit. Yet if they invented rabbit nuggets I doubt they would taste as good. Then nuggets are never served as nuggets except when breaded to look like parts of a natural animal, and of course, "Parts is parts."
Curiously, in Korea they have two kinds of dogs—the small, yellowish short hairs they keep in pens to sell for the dinner table and the regular varieties we call pets. One thing I learned from reading about the World Cup this year is that Seoul has about 400 restaurants that serve dog. I've never eaten dog, but I think it's odd that the breed of dog raised for Oriental consumption ended up roughly the same color as chickens.
For those who don't know, dog was a favorite food of the American Indians, so I think we should add it to our Independence Day menu, along with our venerable hot dogs, to honor the Fourth of July. Yet although our (pet) dog is yellow, or golden, it is not a short hair. I fear if I cooked him my wife would go to prison for murder although my troubles would be over. I can hear my pitiful excuse as she holds a gun to my head: "But honey, I didn't mean to really cook him, I was just demonstrating, you know, and we got to talking… and then after a couple of beers we noticed his fur was burning and he wouldn't wake up so we skinned him to make it easier on everybody."
Of course, if Cher and Madonna and Barbara Streisand and Sally Fields all started eating dog, everyone else in Hollywood would try it. "It's not as if they're pets," I can hear Ed Asner saying. "They were raised for food."
How about a dog nugget? A little more complicated for bioengineers, given the four legs and a tail, but certainly not an insurmountable challenge. You put enough batter on something and people believe there must be meat in it.
To these thoughts I'll add an appropriate poem from one of my favorite poets, whom we featured in The Melic Review twice. For more of his work, click on his name below.
Censored from Larousse Gastronomique
To cook a puppy, hang the carcass from its hind feet
with a nylon rope--eighth-inch will do: it's strong
but pliant too. Now slice around the ankles
with a boning knife (unless you have a flenser,
which is better still.) Part the skin along the thighs
and join these cuts--a sort of wye--to a clean incision
crotch to chin. Take care not to break
the peritoneum: it's a mess if all the guts get out.
Pull off the skin in one soft piece. You'll need to tug
to get across the head. Think, "Child's pajama top,"
and you'll have it right first time you try.
Sever the rectum from the anus and the stomach from the throat.
Gently scoop the entrails to your waste pail. Puppy sweetbreads
are a different recipe, as are the heart and lungs
which we discard as well. Truss the carcass you have cleaned
to a roasting spit and rub with sea-salt, crushed garlic, sage.
Cook turning often, as you would a capon
or a suckling pig. Serves two for puppies aged six weeks,
three for larger breeds.
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